Fletcher out for rest of the season after surgery
Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to resolve his chronic bowel condition.
United have stressed the move is part of a 'planned procedure', but they admit it is 'frustrating' for the 28-year-old who has made just two short substitute appearances since starting the Premier League win at Reading on December 1st.
A United statement read: 'Darren Fletcher will be unavailable for the remainder of this season having undergone surgery to resolve his ulcerative colitis condition.
'We wish to stress 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.
'Whilst it is frustrating for both Darren and the club that he won't be able to contribute further during this campaign, this decision has been taken with our full support in the best interests of his long term health and we look forward to him returning next season with this problem firmly behind him.
'We would be grateful if his privacy could be respected at this time and in the coming months in order to aid his recuperation.'
Not only are Manchester United affected, but Scotland must cope without their captain for the first matches of Gordon Strachan's reign as national coach, next month's friendly against Estonia and the World Cup qualifiers against Wales, Serbia and Croatia.
Strachan said last night: 'On behalf of the Scotland supporters, the national squad and backroom team, I wish Darren the best of luck in his recovery from the surgery that has been confirmed by his club.
'I spoke with Darren on Tuesday and know the decision to have the operation has been taken in the interests of his long-term health and with the full backing of the medical staff at Manchester United. 'Darren's commitment and pride in playing for his country is an example to any professional footballer, as has been demonstrated by his availability for the recent World Cup qualifiers and the international challenge match against Luxembourg.
'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.'