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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Fletcher defends decision to play at Wembley

Darren Fletcher has stood by his decision to reject Scotland boss George Burley's plea to miss Manchester United's Community Shield defeat against Chelsea.

Burley was desperate for the midfielder to sit out yesterday's match at Wembley in order to keep him fresh for Wednesday's crucial World Cup qualifier in Norway.

But Fletcher - who will captain his country in Oslo - feared losing his place in the United pecking order if he complied.

The 25-year-old, who started the game and came off with 15 minutes remaining, insisted he is fit and ready to help Scotland in arguably their most important match for two years.

He said in the Daily Record: "I'm feeling good. The Scotland manager obviously asked me about not playing but I want to play as many games as I can.

"I've got to try to win a place in the United team and there is a lot of competition around the squad.

"I don't want to be skipping United games but I was always going to be available for Scotland. That was always going to be the case.

"There was never any doubt. But I've also always got to concentrate on my club career and they both go hand in hand.''

Meanwhile, Rangers goalkeeper Neil Alexander has played down his own chances of starting Wednesday's Group Nine showdown by claiming David Marshall "deserves'' the nod.

Alexander had been considered the front-runner to replace the injured Craig Gordon in Oslo but he appears to be willing to stand aside for his rival.

Cardiff keeper Marshall has bided his time as number three behind Gordon and Allan McGregor while they battled it out for the number one jersey.

But with both now unavailble - the latter due to a lifetime suspension - Alexander believes Marshall should be handed his big chance.

He said: "I must admit I think David Marshall will play and deservedly so.

"I know what it's like to be in the squad for years and be overlooked.''

Alexander added: "David's been through a lot because of circumstances and he probably thinks he deserves to play. I can't really disagree with that. He's been in the squad a long time as the number three.

"Having been behind Allan McGregor, he now find himself in the number two position. With Craig out, he keeps going up the ladder and maybe thinks he's entitled to play. That's fair enough. I can fully understand that, but that's the manager's decision. I've been drafted in as cover because Craig's missing. I'm just enjoying it and not looking too far ahead.''

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