The return of Darren Fletcher in a closed door match recently was a much needed boost for Manchester United boss David Moyes. The Scotland captain has not played competitively since December 2012 after being diagnosed with chronic bowel disease ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes long-lasting inflammation in part of your digestive tract. Like Crohn’s disease, another common IBD, ulcerative colitis can be debilitating and sometimes can lead to life-threatening complications.
Fletcher’s battle with the disease has been a long and frustrating one but it’s one that he is now winning much to the delight of the Manchester United and Scotland fans who have missed the talented midfielder. Scotland in particular has suffered without Fletcher but it has forced others like Scott Brown, James Morrison and James McArthur to step up into the fold. Fletchers return adds genuine quality to a Scottish midfield that is starting to fire again under Gordon Strachan. The Scotland boss is optimistic about having Fletcher back available for selection having not had the luxury of being able to select the player so far during his spell as national coach. But Strachan is aware that Fletcher needs to fully recover before being thrown back into action, as an early return could lead to another long term layoff.
United manager David Moyes is also looking forward to Fletcher’s return but like Strachan is working with the player the clubs medical staff to determine the right method for his return. Moyes has been cautious about rushing Fletcher back, despite having serious midfield issues that would be solved by the players return, preferring instead to introduce him back into the fold slowly. With the disease under control, Fletcher is now bouncing back and spoke about his delight in returning to action in an interview with MUTV:
“It’s been a long time, so it’s good to get back. I’ve been training for a few weeks now and the next progression is to get some match-time. I enjoyed it. I just want to be out there to help and do my best. The aim is to be back in the manager’s plans and help on the pitch”
Fletcher is honest that his struggle with IBD has been tough but credits his family with giving him the motivation to push through with his recovery. The disease itself can be tough to tackle as patients can see daily improvements start to believe that they are moving forward and then suffer a setback or flare up that can deflate their confidence. It is at that time that family support is crucial, something that Fletcher has discovered over the past two years as he faced up to several surgeries and painful procedures. He knows that he cannot fully win this battle as IBD remains incurable for the time being but if controlled Fletcher can live an ordinary life, even sending the disease into long term remission. His hope is to regain his fitness levels and push again for starting spots for club and country. Fletcher is passionate about both and would love nothing more than to help guide united to the Premiership title and eventually lead Scotland as captain to their first major tournament in over 16 years.
For more information about IBD, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/ibd/