Man Utd midfielder Fletcher out for the season

Manchester United will be without midfielder Darren Fletcher for the rest of the season as the Scotland captain undergoes surgery in an effort to once and for all cure his intestinal problem, the Daily Mail has reported.

Fletcher has been suffering from ulcerative colitis and missed 10 months of football before returning to the United side in September 2012, making an appearance in the Champions League against Galatasaray. Since then, Fletcher has featured in 12 further matches for club and country, playing 90 minutes for Scotland against Wales and Belgium in October and Luxembourg in November, scoring for United against Queens Park Rangers that same month.

However, Fletcher has not played for his club since Boxing Day and while United insist the operation was planned in advance, the Mail contends it raises fresh concerns about the future direction of Fletcher’s career.

A United statement read: “This was a planned procedure undertaken at the optimal time having achieved a period of sustained good general health, as illustrated by the fact that Darren has trained with the team regularly this season and been available for selection right up to the operation,” and added that Fletcher was expected to return to the team next season.

The news also comes as a blow to new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan, who faces a series of vital World Cup qualification matches without his skipper. Strachan said: “I’m sure I speak for all Scotland fans when I say I hope that the operation allows Darren to overcome his condition and resume his role as a major influence for club and country in his own time.

In the meantime, I have stressed to him that, as captain, he remains an integral part of the international set-up and that he is welcome to join up with the squad at any time during his recovery.

Fletcher has made more than 300 appearances for United, scoring 23 goals and winning the Premier League on four occasions, as well as the FA Cup once, the League Cup twice and the Champions League once, in 2008.

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