STEVEN FLETCHER insists his confidence wasn’t affected during a goal drought which stretched to almost six months.
Sunderland frontman Fletcher found the net for the first time since the Black Cats’ November win at Crystal Palace yesterday after scoring a hat-trick for Scotland in their 6-1 Euro 2016 qualifying rout over minnows Gibraltor.
I feel my game’s about more than goals but you know as a striker that people don’t judge you on how many times you link up play, but on how many you scoreSteven Fletcher
Fletcher’s lean streak at club level had been mirrored on the international stage, with his only previous goal for the Scots coming in a 2009 qualifying victory over Iceland.
But the 28-year-old, one of the brighter performers for Dick Advocaat’s opening game in charge at West Ham, says that while he was well-aware of the length of his goal drought, he didn’t believe it was taking a toll on performances.
Fletcher said: “I feel my game’s about more than goals but you know as a striker that people don’t judge you on how many times you link up play, but on how many you score.
“So I was conscious of the fact it had been so long. That said, my confidence genuinely hasn’t been dented.
“You just enjoy these days when they come along and they don’t come much better than scoring a hat-trick for your country.
“You’d have seen from my celebrations how much the goals meant to me, especially the first. That seemed to take an age to go in.”
Fletcher will now return to Wearside in preparation for Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby, but the £12million frontman was glad to have justified Scotland manager Gordon Strachan’s faith yesterday.
The ex-Wolves striker became the first Scotland player to score a hat-trick since 1969, with Strachan’s men still lying level on points with Germany in qualifying group D - one behind leaders Poland.
“It meant a lot that he (Strachan) stuck with me, but that’s the way he is,” added Fletcher.
“The gaffer’s made a point of standing by the guys who’ve got us to this position and saying that, whatever anyone else says, he knows we’re good players.
“I’m delighted to have repaid a bit of that faith.”