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Darren Fletcher speaks candidly about his return from illness

Darren Fletcher speaks candidly this past week about returning to football while trying to manage his debilitating bowel condition.

Michael Steele - Getty Images

It's been a wonderful past few weeks for Darren Fletcher and it has been a joy for Manchester United supporters to see the return of the industrious midfielder after his recent ten-month absence due to his chronic bowel condition. In this post, I'm going to write just a few sentences and instead, I'm merely going to provide some of the candid comments that Fletch has offered this week about his return to football. Dealing with the illness has obviously been an ordeal for him so I can only imagine how refreshing it was for him to discuss how his perseverance is allowing him to don a United and Scotland shirt once more. Here are some things Fletch had to say on the eve of captaining Scotland once more in a World Cup qualifier versus Wales:

"I didn’t doubt it, I always felt I would be back. I think I needed to have that kind of attitude. There were other people who doubted it but, for me to be here today I always needed to believe. I couldn’t let myself think I might not make it. I always told myself I’d be back one day and fortunately that’s the case. But it’s not been plain sailing along the way by any stretch of the imagination. The reason I stopped in the first place was because I had to find out if it was playing football that was making me worse. When I realised that wasn’t the case it was a good barrier to break down. I knew then that playing and training wasn’t making me worse, it was just the illness in general. I was just as ill not playing in those six months as I had been when I was playing. That was significant, because I knew for sure then that I wasn’t pushing myself too hard to play football. That had always been the doubt. Some people were even saying I was silly to be playing because I was making myself ill. But deep down I knew that wasn’t the case. The doctors just needed to find out if not playing would make me healthier. Then I would have been left with a decision to make. Do I want to play football or do I want to live a healthy life? But deep down I was always confident it wasn’t going to end that way. I always felt we would find a medication that would work. I just had to stay positive even though many people, maybe even the doctors, didn’t think I’d ever be back. When I played in my first reserve game the excitement levels were unbelievable. Then obviously, it went up a few notches when I made my return to the Manchester United first team. But to be back in a Scotland shirt? That’s another thing again. Just to be sitting here in the team hotel the night before the game, it almost feels like I’m starting out all over again. Yes, I’ve got a lot more experience and there are things I know how to handle now but, in terms of my excitement levels, it feels like I’m about to win my first cap all over again. Because I was out for such a long time, because there was doubt that I would ever be back, it just feels amazing to be a part of it all again. The condition never goes away and that’s the thing I have to live with now. Every day is a battle for me. I have to watch my diet and take certain medication or it could come back again."

- Fletcher | Source: The Scotsman

Earlier in the week, Fletch discussed his return to the United squad:

"It's what it's all about. Getting as many games as possible. I know the manager [Sir Alex Ferguson] has got such a big squad now, especially in the midfield area, and there is a lot of competition for places. I have to be patient and wait for my chances but, hopefully, one will come around sooner rather than later. I think my general fitness is fine, it's just match fitness - the sharpness, reaction times, things in your head and things like that. The positional sense, when you're a little bit older, comes back to you fairly quickly. To get as many 90 minutes as possible is great just now. After not playing for a long time, it's important to get games back into your legs. Fortunately, I've had quite a few games for the Reserves as well. I was just desperate to get back involved in any way, shape or form. For me, firstly playing for the Reserves was massive and a great achievement. Going into every game, I treat them the same. It doesn't matter where it is - the Reserves, Capital One Cup, back in Scotland - every match is the same when you get across that line and just want to get back to winning ways."

- Fletcher | Source: MUTV

Welcome back Darren.