Fletcher quits Wales
The 29-year-old Plymouth midfielder dropped the bombshell as the party assembled at their Cardiff hotel on Sunday. Fletcher, who played in Plymouth's opening league game of the season yesterday - a 1-1 draw against Crystal Palace - had spoken to Football Association of Wales officials earlier in the week about arrangements for the trip to Montenegro without giving a hint of his decision.
But the Surrey-born player confirmed his retirement and withdrawal from the squad earlier today, after winning 36 caps and scoring one goal for his country, against Norway in the 3-0 win at Wrexham in February 2008. It is believed that Fletcher - who played in the 2006 FA Cup final for West Ham against Liverpool - has stepped aside now that Wales have a glut of up-and-coming youngsters in midfield including Aaron Ramsey, Joe Ledley, David Edwards, Joe Allen, Andy King and Jack Collison.
The likeable Fletcher has emerged as a reliable, competitive defensive midfielder after making his debut against Scotland in 2004, and he also skippered the side under John Toshack. Formerly with Bournemouth, he also played for Watford on loan, and Palace before moving to Plymouth on loan last season and making the move permanent during the summer.
Fletcher was left out of the Wales squads that faced Estonia and Azerbaijan at the end of last season, but was recalled for the Montenegro match. Wales have also lost Wolves midfielder Edwards from their squad to travel to Podgorica. Edwards, 23, has a groin injury and after driving to Cardiff today for assessment was ruled out of the trip.
Wales will not call up any replacements for the loss of Fletcher and Edwards. Cardiff's Joe Ledley, who suffered from sickness this weekend and came off at half-time in the Bluebirds' 4-0 victory over Scunthorpe yesterday, is fit to travel. Brian Flynn, manager of the Under-21s, has lost two players from his squad to face Hungary in a UEFA championship clash at Wrexham on Wednesday.
Swansea midfielder Allen is out with a hamstring injury and Chelsea have withdrawn goalkeeper Rhys Taylor. Flynn has called-up Swansea's David Cornell, the Under-17s goalkeeper, as well as Cardiff defender Adam Matthews, who has won Under-19 caps.