November 24, 2020

Star’s career under threat

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Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher is taking an extended break from football because of a serious stomach illness.

A United statement said the 27-year-old is suffering from ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel condition.

His last game was in the 2-2 Champions League home draw against Benfica on 22 November, in which he scored.

The club said Fletcher had “accepted medical advice to take an extended break”.

He is taking a rest “in order to afford the best chance possible of achieving full remission once again”.

The statement added: “Darren’s continued desire to play and his loyalty to both club and country has probably compromised the chances of optimising his own health and fitness.

“We request that his privacy is respected and hope that the removal of the additional stress associated with speculation regarding his health will also aid his recovery.”

Fletcher signed a new four-year deal until 2015 with United in March.

United defender Rio Ferdinand said on Twitter: “We are going to miss two big players in Fletcher and [Nemanja] Vidic. I hope they both come back fitter and stronger than ever.”

Fletcher made only one start for United last term after 1 March and was an unused substitute for the 3-1 Champions League final defeat by Barcelona. He has made 10 appearances in all competitions for United during the current campaign.

Fletcher’s absence is another blow to United, who suffered a huge setback last week when they were eliminated from the Champions League in the group stage for only the third time in 16 years.

It is also a big loss for Scotland, for whom Fletcher is an integral figure. Their next match is a friendly against Slovenia in February.

Fletcher’s last appearance in international football came in November’s 2-1 friendly win for Scotland in Cyprus. He played for 64 minutes before being replaced by Brighton’s Craig Mackail-Smith.

 

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