The Scotland manager considers him such an influential figure that his presence alone can be significant. There could be an element of compassion in maintaining Fletcher's close involvement with the national team after he was nine months ago diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, but Levein is not acting out of sympathy. He wants the Scotland captain to still set the standards for his squad.
Fletcher will join up on Sunday with the national team, as the players gather for the friendly against Australia at Easter Road next week, though he is still some way short of returning to competitive football. The midfielder can participate in training sessions, and joining up with the squad is a reminder to team-mates of the commitment demanded by the manager. It will also comfort Levein to see first-hand that Fletcher is making progress, since he recognises that the midfielder is critical to the fortunes of his team.
Fletcher's career had been reduced to medical bulletins, and there was a temptation to read a grave message into Sir Alex Ferguson's remark last month that "if it doesn't work for [Fletcher], he knows he has a position at the club anyway". The inference would make Fletcher wince, because he is in no mood to concede to the chronic inflammatory bowel condition that can require surgery and can leave sufferers weakened, lethargic and cause them to lose weight.
"There has been quite a dramatic improvement in the last three or four weeks," Levein said. "The fact he's going to train with us is brilliant. I'm now purely selfishly thinking, 'he might be ready for September'." He was really bouncy when we spoke the other day and is desperate to get up and train. He is not just an important player on the pitch, he sets the tone for everyone else. Six weeks ago he was struggling and now he is feeling much better. He is a role model, someone the rest of the players look up to. And I'm trying to perpetuate this right down the youth groups: 'this is what you want to be and this is what you want to do'."
Levein can freely indulge in such optimism because there is no prospect of him exerting any unnecessary pressure on the midfielder. Fletcher played 45 minutes last week for Manchester United in a bounce match, and such small developments will tend to feel triumphant for a player who must have once feared for his career. There is still too much progress to be made to assume he will return to the levels of fitness and competitiveness upon which he once relied.
Fletcher's impact will not be confined to the national squad. On Saturday morning he will join Mark Wotte, the SFA performance director, and Levein at Hampden, where they will address the 100 12-year-old boys who will be the first to join the SFA's performance schools this year, their parents and their teachers. Seven regional training centres have been established, with each served by local schools, so that development can be combined with education. The presence of Fletcher is intended to make achieving their dreams seem more attainable.
He is naturally statesmanlike, and his background contains typical anecdotes about hard work, determination and making the most of natural ability. Fletcher's role as an inspiration is secondary to Levein's priorities, but the manager recognises that his successors cannot rely on good fortune to deliver international-class footballers. Players need to be nurtured, and the success of British Olympians is a timely example, as all have probably been training for London 2012 for the majority of their lives.
Levein is also heartened by a squad sheet that contains 13 Barclays Premier League players. Scott Brown, the Celtic captain, has been left out of the assembled group because of his ankle condition. He is likely to feature tomorrow night against HJK Helsinki in the Champions League qualifier, but only after an injection, and his club is nursing him through games.
Kenny Miller has also been left out, while he adjusts to life with the Vancouver Whitecaps, so Jamie Mackie will start against Australia in the lone centre-forward role. Jordan Rhodes will feature for at least half an hour, and Levein would like to involve Matt Gilks, the Blackpool goalkeeper, but the core of the squad has already been established and these are opportunities to begin the process of introducing change. The intention is to avoid disruptions that affect the team's displays, but have contingency plans. Levein, for instance, would have liked to call up Craig Gordon, but the goalkeeper remains without a club while he recovers from a persistent knee injury, having left Sunderland at the end of last season.
"This knee thing is still not resolved," Levein said. "He has had offers and he does not want to sign with anyone until he gets this sorted out. It's not as if he is in limbo. He's been down to London to see someone. He is hopeful that will resolve the issue."
n Tickets for Scotland v Australia at Easter Road, on Wednesday August 15, are available on 0844 248 5155, via www.ticketmaster.co.uk or by from the Hibernian ticket office.
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