• Premier League

Fletcher back for good at Manchester Utd

ESPN staff
December 16, 2013 « LIVE: Champions League draw | Chartbeat test »
Darren Fletcher made his return © PA Photos
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Manchester United's Darren Fletcher believes he has finally put his three-year spell on the sidelines behind him and thinks he is "back for good".

The midfielder made his first appearance for Manchester United since Boxing Day 2012 when he came on as a substitute in Sunday's 3-0 win against Aston Villa.

Fletcher's problems with the bowel condition ulcerative colitis came to light in March 2011 and the Scotland international has undergone surgery to treat the condition in a bid to return to first-team football.

He told MUTV: "I'm back for good. This is hopefully the game which means I'm back now. Hopefully there will be no setbacks with the health issues. I seem to have come through that, thank God. I'm thankful for that. It's onwards and upwards now."

Fletcher has only made 10 Premier League starts in 27 months but was adamant he was not ready to retire and believes now he could have a second career.

He added: "Ever since I was a kid, I've wanted to play football. I've been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to play for Manchester United and wasn't going to give that up lightly. I battled through it, and I'm only 29 years old, I think I've got plenty more years of playing left in me.

"That was reiterated to me by my family, friends and the old manager [Sir Alex Ferguson]. I could have a career all over again if I get my health right, and hopefully that's what I'm going to do."

Fletcher thanked Ferguson for his support during a trying time, saying: "The manager was a massive influence. There have been so many people I could mention [who have supported me], but first and foremost are the people closest to home: my wife, kids, mum and dad. Without them, I probably wouldn't have been able to come back."

"I always believed I would come back, I kept that mind-set, and I stayed strong and believed I would get back. I think that was the best way to approach the situation and I knew I was going to go through a lot, but the belief and determination was to get back. Playing a game like that, and getting an ovation like that makes it all worthwhile."

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