Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has paid tribute to his family after the Scotland captain made his return to competitive football following an 11-month break to combat ulcerative colitis.
Fletcher was diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel condition in December 2011 and has since only played 13 matches, not featuring once for the first team since Boxing Day 2012.
The Scottish captain said his strong but slow recovery had been down to his family and the sports scientists at Old Trafford, which combined with his determined attitude had finally paid dividends.
“It’s been tough but luckily I’ve got a great family around me, and if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t be standing here today,” Fletcher told MUTV.
“They keep me going, they keep me motivated and lift me when I’m down.”
Fletcher made his return for the under-21s yesterday and played over an hour of a 2-2 draw against Fulham.
“It’s been a long time,” he said.
“It’s good to back get tonight. I enjoyed the game. I’ve been ready for it. I’ve been training for a few weeks now so the next progression is getting a bit of a match time and as I said I enjoyed it tonight.
“The support from the club has been fantastic, from Sir Alex Ferguson to the new manager David Moyes…I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
After his return the United youth graduate hopes to build on his performance for the under-21s and eventually return to the fore in the first-team midfield.
“I’m gonna hopefully get a few more under-21s games, obviously I need to finish the 90 minutes and then try and work my way into the squad and wait for an opportunity, wait for a chance and you’ve got to be ready to take it.
“I’ll work very hard with the under-21 squad, they’ll make sure that I’m ready for when, and hopefully when the managers calls on me.”
United boss David Moyes will be eyeing the progress of his countryman with interest, perhaps hoping Fletcher could still play an important role in the club’s title defence.
Image courtesy of Sky Sports, with thanks.