Darren Fletcher made his return to competitive action after surgery in January in tonight’s 2-2 draw with Fulham for the Under-21s.
Since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in December 2011, he has only played 13 matches and hasn’t been in action for the first team since Boxing Day in 2012.
Against Fulham, he had a solid outing alternating between sitting in the middle of the park and occasionally pushing forward. He constantly made himself available to take the ball by moving into space and his passing was top notch. Arguably his best moment came with his final touch of the ball when he played an exquisite ball into Will Keane whose shot went wide. He was replaced on 66 minutes by Joe Rothwell.
United fans should be very happy with what was a great performance from Fletcher given that he hasn’t played for 11 months and only has a few weeks of training under his belt and speaking to MUTV after the game, he was very happy with himself.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time,” he said.
“Yeah that was massive [Ferguson naming him in final speech]. It come as a big surprise and that shows the measure of the man, in that moment, when he’s retiring in his last game at Old Trafford to take time out to mention me I think it speaks volumes of the man. Hopefully I can get back and be involved in the managers plans and help us on the pitch.”
“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 plan was to get to half time and see how I felt and then get to 60 minutes and then take it from there. I felt as if I could have went longer but he plan was not to play more than that so better sticking to the plan and not upsetting the sports science lads.”
Great to see fletch back tonight,
Top pro top player top man…
— Michael Carrick (@carras16) October 28, 2013
Fletcher also took a moment to thank everybody around him who have been instrumental in getting him back on the football pitch once again.
He continued: “The support from the club has been fantastic, from Sir Alex Ferguson to the new manager David Moyes, everyone about the club David Gill and I couldn’t ask for anything better.
“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. They keep me going, they keep me motivated and lift me when I’m down.
“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.”
Warren Joyce also praised Fletcher’s contribution both on and off the pitch and hinted that he could be involved in some way tomorrow against Norwich.
“I’m delighted for him, he’s come through that,” he said.
“We were talking before the game, the plan at first was maybe 45 minutes. He felt good, he looked good.
“I think if he can do that and do a little bit tomorrow again now, it’s just such a good step for him. I’m delighted for him, he’s just such a good pro, a good club man, and he’s got a hell of a lot of ability and a hell of a lot of attributes.
“He just talks and says the right things. He’s sensible, not overly loud but says constructive things and gives them good information before the game. It’s good that he’s doing that, even though being out so long he’s got his own game to think about. He’s willing to pass on information to the other boys and be a good example for them as well.”
Good to see Fletch back in action tonight
— Ashley Young (@youngy18) October 28, 2013