Rewind ten months. Darren Fletcher was sidelined “indefinitely” with ulcerative colitis, a chronic bowel condition with no known cure. There were real worries about his general health let alone his footballing career, and it wasn’t ludicrous to think that Fletcher wouldn’t play again for Manchester United.
26 September 2012. Darren Fletcher makes his first start for Manchester United and captains the side against Newcastle United in the Capital One Cup and plays fantastic in a new holding midfield role behind Anderson and Tom Cleverley.
“Not at all. I always believed I would be back and fortunately I’m here today. It proves that I always had the belief that one day I would be back and helping the lads qualify for a major competition.” Darren Fletcher
What a turnaround it has been for Fletcher. He has had a real mental battle to get back to the stage he is at now and he feels that he is ready for Scotland’s important double header against Wales and Belgium.
Speaking ahead of the Wales game tonight in Cardiff, he said: “I feel ready to play both matches.
“I feel fit, I feel strong and I feel ready for the games. It’s great to be back.
“It’s been a while and I’m just desperate for the game to start.
“Hopefully I’m playing and I can do my part in getting a good result for Scotland.”
Whilst Fletcher has admitted that he will never be 100% again, having him back in the squad makes such a big difference. It provides us with an alternative to Michael Carrick and with a newly adopted diamond formation providing such dividends so far, it is likely we will be using it more often this season.
With the Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup sure to busy up the schedule in the next few months, having strong depth in the squad is key to successfully competing in multiple competitions – so Darren Fletcher’s return could not be better timed.
The more football Fletcher plays, the fitter and better he looks. As long as he can continue getting game time under his belt, he will no doubt play a key role for us as the season unfolds.