Belfast Telegraph

Fletcher takes 'extended break'

Manchester United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher is to take "an extended break from football" owing to a chronic inflammatory bowel condition, his club have announced.

United have revealed that Fletcher, who has been sidelined at various points in recent times with what was reported to be a virus, has been suffering with the condition for some time. The 27-year-old has now been advised to take a complete break from the game.

The club said in a statement: "On behalf of Darren Fletcher, Manchester United wishes to announce that he is taking an extended break from football for health reasons."

Fletcher made only one start for United last term after March 1 and was an unused substitute for the 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.

He has made 10 appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils during the current campaign, with the last coming on November 22.

The statement from United continued: "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."

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