Darren Fletcher stands a very good chance of regaining his Manchester United spot when he returns but it won't be easy.
Darren Fletcher’s battle against ulcerative colitis is something that nearly all Manchester United fans will be aware of.
The most pressing question relating to the Scot is whether he’ll ever play for the club again, considering the current crop of midfield players the side has and the way Sir Alex Ferguson has just got used to life without him.
However, it is the boss at United, who is set to offer Fletcher the chance to play again after revealing that he does expect Fletcher to return to first team duties once his battle with illness has been well and truly dealt with.
“This improves his prospects. I felt he wasn’t the Darren Fletcher of three or four years ago. When he comes back it will be in a different role. The boy’s attitude is absolutely brilliant,” Ferguson told the Sun.
It will have to be in a different role because by the time Fletcher returns, he’ll be the wrong side of 30 which means he’ll more than likely have to wave goodbye to his central midfield position.
The current form of Shinji Kagawa and Michael Carrick means he’s down the pecking order for the two central births, so his role may have to change if he wants to play on for United, late into his 30s.
His most likely role has to be in some sort of defensive midfield position or even as a centre back, where some of the pressure is taken off of him.
It may also be the case that he’s used in a Ledley King (former Tottenham Hotspur player) type role where he can only make a certain number of appearances per month, to insure against his health.
There aren’t too many people around who will give him any hope considering the scale of his illness and what it takes to overcome something like that.
However, Ferguson is no mug and if he believes that Fletcher has the right sort of attitude to make a return, then he could well pull it off which will be a lift to all connected to the club because he’s such a popular individual.
It may be the case that when he does return, he may not be able to maintain the sort of performance levels expected by Manchester United.
That opens up the possibility of a coaching role or even a managerial career because tactically, Fletcher is one of the best United midfielders in the recent past in terms of reading the play and tactics from the opposition.
Unfortunately, it won’t be possible to make any solid judgements until he’s back in training and back in a United shirt.
Do you think Fletcher will return?
image: © apasciuto