Belfast Telegraph

Morrison hails Fletcher influence

James Morrison insists Darren Fletcher has been the perfect man to spearhead West Brom's survival fight.

The midfielder believes four-time Premier League title winner Fletcher deserves instant respect from the Albion squad.

Fletcher was given the Baggies' captaincy by boss Tony Pulis after joining from Manchester United in January and has played a key role in lifting them eight points clear of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

And Morrison, who has been called into the Scotland squad with Fletcher for their friendly against Northern Ireland and Euro 2016 qualifier with Gibraltar this month, insists his team-mate is their ideal midfield general.

He said: "He's a great lad, he's a leader and he barks his orders.

"He's got that respect and he deserves it for what he's done in the game.

"Obviously I have played with Darren for many years for Scotland. I know his game and I think he knows mine and we slotted in perfectly.

"We've got a good bunch of lads in the group and he has slotted in perfectly."

The duo played in midfield together for the first time in Saturday's 1-0 win over Stoke which saw the Baggies hit back from successive defeats to Aston Villa in the league and FA Cup.

Pulis stayed away from the squad for two days last week to avoid his mood affecting the players following the losses and Morrison admitted they were hurting.

"It was rock bottom for us after those two defeats," said the 28-year-old.

"It really hurt so we were wounded beasts and you could see the tackles flying in (on Saturday), which was really pleasing.

"We fought for every ball and I thought we were comfortable.

"They didn't really have many chances. Stoke are a great side who have done really well this season so that's a good victory for us.

"The manager just wanted a reaction. That's all you can do when you get a defeat.

"We worked as a team. The lads fought for each other and when someone was out of the game people filled in."

Brown Ideye scored the winner at the weekend after missing a glaring chance against Villa and struggling with injury and Morrison hailed the Nigerian's recovery.

"He didn't train all week. The two strikers only trained on Friday because of injuries so to put in that kind of performance is credit to them," he said.

"Brown produced a great header, especially having not put those chances away at Villa."

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