Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has not been featuring in the side much over the last couple of seasons, and now we're beginning to understand why. A statement from the club has revealed that the Scotland international, 27, is suffering from ulcerative colitis and will have to take another extended break from football activities:
Over the past year [Fletcher] has had several absence periods which we have attributed to a viral illness in order to respect his right to medical confidentiality. Darren has, in fact, been suffering from ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel condition) for some time preceding this.
Whilst he was able to maintain remission of symptoms for a considerable period this has proved more difficult recently and Darren’s continued desire to play and his loyalty to both his club and country has probably compromised the chances of optimising his own health and fitness.
He has therefore accepted medical advice to take an extended break from the demands of training and playing in order to afford the best chance possible of achieving full remission once again.
This, obviously, is pretty unhappy stuff. Fletcher's been ill for years at this point, and the fact that United are admitting that his attempts to help the team have 'probably compromised the chances of optimising his own health and fitness' is a rather damning indictment of the club. The team knew about this issue - it's not as though Fletcher was hiding it from them - and instead of finding a way to take the load off his shoulders, did nothing to reinforce the midfield.
It might seem churlish to criticise a team when they're losing a player for an extended period of time, but a young man's health has been damaged for, as far as I can tell, no reason other than that Ashley Young was a flashier purchase than Scott Parker. Best wishes go out to Fletcher for a quick and full recovery, of course, but some questions really have to be asked of United here.
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