Manchester United have been rocked by the news that Scottish midfielder Darren Fletcher has been forced to take an extended leave from football. The club’s official website released a statement saying that the midfielder is suffering from ulcerative colitis.

Fletcher missed two months of last season with a mystery virus (now revealed as ulcerative colitis) but had been deemed fit to return to first team football despite losing quite a lot of weight. He then missed pre-season training and has only featured in ten games this season, starting seven of them.

The disease has now taken it’s toll on him and he has been advised by the medical team to take rest and not take part in training at all. A statement on Manchester United’s official website read,

“On behalf of Darren Fletcher, Manchester United wishes to announce that he is taking an extended break from football for health reasons.

“Over the past year he has had several absence periods which we have attributed to a viral illness in order to respect his right to medical confidentiality. Darren has, in fact, been suffering from ulcerative colitis (a chronic inflammatory bowel condition) for some time preceding this.

“Whilst he was able to maintain remission of symptoms for a considerable period this has proved more difficult recently and Darren’s continued desire to play and his loyalty to both his club and country has probably compromised the chances of optimising his own health and fitness.

“He has therefore accepted medical advice to take an extended break from the demands of training and playing in order to afford the best chance possible of achieving full remission once again.

“We request that his privacy is respected and hope that the removal of the additional stress associated with speculation regarding his health will also aid his recovery.”

This news comes as a major blow to United who have already lost club captain Nemanja Vidic for the rest of the season with ruptured knee ligaments and puts extra pressure on Sir Alex Ferguson as his options have become severely limited in the middle of the park.

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