FOOTBALL NEWS

14/09/2012 11:41, Report by A Bostock, N Coppack
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Fletcher back in squad

Story updated 22:30 Friday

Darren Fletcher's impressive efforts to find full fitness have earned him a spot in Sir Alex Ferguson's squad for Saturday.

The United midfielder played  90 minutes on Tuesday night, in a reserve-team friendly at Stalybridge Celtic, and while he may only be a tracksuited observer against Wigan Athletic, be it among the subs or in the stands, it's nevertheless another move forward.

The popular Scot has not featured in the first-team squad since 22 November of last year, when he started and scored in the 2-2 home draw with Benfica in the Champions League. Three weeks later, the club confirmed he would be taking an extended break for health reasons.

"Darren's training well and played in the reserves on Tuesday night," said Sir Alex at Friday's pre-match press conference.

"The next step is when we can involve him in a game in the first team. He's in the squad tomorrow, simply because I think it will give him a boost. It's a chance to progress. At this moment in time everything's going fine for him.

"We understand the [ulcerative colitis] condition he has to deal with. That can change but hopefully he's managed to conquer it in terms of his diet and how he handles it. Things are going well at the moment."

When asked if Fletcher could be on the teamsheet for the Wigan match, Sir Alex replied:

"I have to make my mind up on that one. He may make the bench. I’m just looking at the options I’ve got. There's a possibility he could. The important thing at this stage is that he's back in the squad.

"I'm looking at the Newcastle cup game in a couple of weeks as a starting point for him. With us, as you know, we alter the make-up of the side in that competition. That week is also a particularly busy week. I’ve got Liverpool on the Sunday, Newcastle on the Wednesday and then Tottenham on Saturday. It’s a big week."

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