Sheffield United: John Fleck can become a Scotland great, says one of his former Rangers team mates as Kieron Freeman makes his Wales debut

John Fleck training with Scotland: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY
John Fleck training with Scotland: Jane Barlow/PA Wire. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

John Fleck has the potential to become one of Scotland's most important players, according to one of his former team mates at Rangers.

The Sheffield United midfielder, whose team mate Kieron Freeman made his Wales debut earlier tonight, was an unused substitute during the Nations League victory over Israel after being drafted into Alex McLeish's squad following its visit to Albania.

Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Despite being forced to wait six years for a chance to showcase his talents with the national side - Fleck's last under-21 cap came in 2012 - Lee McCulloch said: "When it comes to international football, people maybe look at him and think he isn’t physical enough because he isn’t the tallest.

"But when the ball is on the ground, he is tough tackling and he is skilful. He is quick, he can pass and, if he can add goals to his game, he could well go on to be a really important player for Scotland.

"He can play in that holding role or he can move forward and he is a more all-rounded and accomplished footballer."

McCulloch played alongside Fleck at Ibrox, where the 27-year-old progressed through the Glaswegian giants youth system before arriving at Bramall Lane via Blackpool and Coventry City.

Enda Stevens is backing Martin O'Neill: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Enda Stevens is backing Martin O'Neill: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"I was at Rangers when John first broke through into the team and people were talking about him going on to be a mainstay for club and country for years to come,” McCulloch continued. “I hope it is the first of many call-ups he gets and that he can establish himself with Scotland now.

"John burst onto the scene as a teenager and he really kicked on but his progression slowed slightly before he got the chance to move down south.

"That has proven to be the making of him. He has matured as a player and a person, he has got children now, and he has developed into a very effective midfielder."

Freeman made his first senior appearance for Wales as a second-half substitute during their defeat in Albania. Another United player, Ben Woodburn, also featured against Christian Panucci's side.

Enda Stevens, another member of United's international brigade, has backed Martin O'Neill to resurrect the Republic of Ireland's fortunes following a disappointing UEFA Nations league campaign. Last night’s stalemate with Denmark left them with just one win in their last nine outings; the country's worst run of results since 1982.

Asked if he feels the O'Neill has taken Ireland as far as he can, the United defender said: "Not at all.

"He's capped an awful lot of new players over the course of this year. It's going to take time to gel and get used to each other.

"We've had a long injury list - Robbie Brady was out for a while, James McCarthy is still to come back in, so it's positive in a way. These players coming back can only help us."

"It will only bring us closer together," Stevens, referring to criticism of Ireland's performances, added. "It's a tight-knit dressing room. Each and every one of the lads works as hard as they can for each other, for the manager, for the staff and for the badge.

"We want to do well and we're working hard for that. We're proud to represent our country. All we can do is keep working away and hopefully things will click."