Manchester United Focus – Fletcher return would be huge boost for Ferguson

Darren Fletcher completed 90 minutes for the Manchester United Under-21 side on Wednesday evening, providing further hope that he will be able to return to action for the first team. United’s midfield is lacking the style of player that the Scot represents, and his reemergence into the fold would be a huge boost for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Fletcher has not featured in a competitive game since November of last year, when it was revealed that he has ulcerative colitis, a condition that amongst other things can lead to weight loss. The 28-year-old did lose weight, but has since managed to put it back on, and in the words of Ferguson is “back to his normal weight from two or three years ago“. This could be vital in the midfielder’s quest for match fitness.

Wednesday’s outing against Tottenham Under-21s was the third appearance Fletcher has made during pre-season, and his second 90-minute outing. This has led to his expected inclusion in United’s 25-man Champions League squad, which will come as a timely boost for the player who has spent his entire career at Old Trafford, making over 300 appearances so far.

The return of Fletcher as a driving force in United’s midfield would be hugely beneficial at a time when this area of the pitch is under scrutiny at the deposed Premier League champions. There are numbers to be chosen from in the squad, but the Reds are lacking a combative general, which is a role that Fletcher had grown into under the guidance and faith of his manager.

Ferguson invariably turned to his academy graduate in the big games, who combines a gritty determination with an impressive engine and composure on the ball. The harrying that Fletcher imposes upon his opponents in trying to win back possession is the brand of offensive style of defence that the manager desires, and was a standout feature of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona.

Fletcher is due to link up with the Scotland squad next week that faces two home games against Serbia and Macedonia in World Cup Qualifiers. He will be hoping to continue his recovery and add to his 58 international caps. Captaining his country once again in a competitive fixture could provide Fletcher with a timely lift at the onset of the new Premier League campaign.

Ferguson, who has already indicated that his compatriot will be given all the time he needs in bidding to make a comeback, has also informed Fletcher that there will be a role for him at United if he is unable to return. However, player, manager and supporters will be hoping that the one-club man can overcome the odds and establish himself back in the first team. For a player that has displayed great passion and heart throughout his career, credited by Ferguson as “such a magnificent professional and such a nice lad“, a return to action would be thoroughly deserved.

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