Sir Alex Ferguson expects Darren Fletcher to return in July and adapt his game to become a holding midfielder.
The Scotland international has undergone an operation in a bid to cure his ulcerative colitis and misses the rest of the season. However, the boss is backing his fellow countryman to again show his character by bouncing back to resurrect his career.
"This improves Darren's prospects of returning [to top form]," explained Sir Alex at his pre-Spurs press conference.
"He had to change his game and he hasn't been the Darren Fletcher of three or four years ago in the games this season. Instead, he was sitting in front of the back four and he did well. That could be his role in the future. When he comes back, and I hope he does, it will be in a different role."
The surgery had been planned but the manager admits it is still a blow to a player who is extremely popular in and around the club.
"It was something we thought would happen anyway," Sir Alex added. "He tried his best to cope with the condition with the treatments he was using but, in the last couple of weeks, it's come back. This operation will hopefully solve the situation and we expect him to be back in July. It's a blow for the boy but given he's been dealing with the condition for a few years, it's just another step for him.
"He has fantastic character, he's a brilliant boy. He'll do his best, no doubt about that. He always