Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher’s injury problems look set to continue for a little longer as the 29-year-old will miss the start of the new Premier League season.
The Scottish captain is recovering from a bowel operation and had hoped to be available in time for Scotland’s friendly against England on Aug. 14 at Wembley. However, that will not be the case, with Fletcher not likely to be available in time for the start of the champions’ new campaign on August 17.
Fletcher has been suffering from ulcerative colitis for five years, a form of inflammatory bowel disease that includes open sores. It is similar in many ways to Crohn’s disease but is intermittent, so periods of intense symptoms can be followed by periods in which patients are relatively free of any symptoms.
The Scot took an extended break from soccer in December 2011, when his symptoms flared up, and he was forced out of the game a year later after another episode. He most recently played for Manchester United on Dec. 26, 2012 against Newcastle United as a last-minute substitute, and he is contracted at Old Trafford until 2015.
In Fletcher’s continued absence, Englishman Tom Cleverley will be one midfielder with the chance to stake his claim for more minutes with the first team. With Michael Carrick virtually assured of his position in the center of midfield, the onus is on Cleverley to fulfil the potential he has shown already for his club and for his country.
However, for Fletcher, the situation remains desperately unfortunate, and his health remains his No. 1 priority.