Premier League - Fletcher forced to take 'extended break'
Tue, 13 Dec 15:02:00 2011
Fletcher has made nine starts for United in all competitions this season but over the past 12 months he has missed long periods due to what the club described as a virus.
United have now revealed that Fletcher has been suffering from ulcerative colitis and has been advised by doctors that he should take a break from representing United and Scotland in order to focus on his recovery.
A club statement read: "Over the past year he 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.
"We request that his privacy is respected and hope that the removal of the additional stress associated with speculation regarding his health will also aid his recovery."
Fletcher, who emerged from the youth academy to become a first-team star at Old Trafford, has made 300 appearances for United, winning four titles, the FA Cup, two League Cups and the Champions League.
In March he signed a new deal with United that ties him to the club until the summer of 2015.
News of Fletcher's illness comes just days after the club confirmed captain Nemanja Vidic will miss the remainder of the season due to a cruciate ligament injury.