Fletcher eyes return to action next season as United star battles bowel condition
14:58 GMT, 26 March 2012
Manchester United's Darren Fletcher is optimistic he will be able to make his comeback from a chronic bowel condition next season.
The midfielder has not played since November 22 due to a condition known as ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.
Watching on: Fletcher was in the stands for Sunday's Old Firm derby
Fletcher, 27, is still to return to training and has instead taken over some of the coaching responsibilities Paul Scholes abandoned when he came out of retirement.
There is still no precise date for when Fletcher will step up his recovery programme.
Tough break: Fletcher hasn't played for United since November
'I'm still not ready to come back playing or training yet but I'm listening to the medical people and trying to get myself right,' Fletcher told BBC Scotland's Sportscene programme.
'The challenge and the focus is to be ready for next season.
'Me and the medical team decided it'd be best if I tried to get myself right and take an extended period out from the game; then come back fully fit and ready to play.
'It's an unpredictable illness and you don't know what lies ahead of you. But I've got to keep staying strong and keep believing. That's an important side of it: positive thinking.
'I've received great support from everyone in Scotland and down in Manchester. I'm hopeful and really positive that I'll be back and back to my best.'
Scotland international Fletcher is enjoying working with United's second string.
He said: 'It’s always something I’ve had a keen interest in – coaching and passing on advice to younger players who are at an important level at Manchester United in the reserves.
'The next step is first-team football, so [I’m] passing on advice to these players.'