Manchester United have confirmed that midfielder Darren Fletcher is to take an extended break from football on account of health reasons.
Scotland captain missed two months of action towards the end of last season due to a stomach illness and also sat out the club’s pre-season tour of North America. He returned to footballing action for his national team in the Euro 2012 qualifiers in September and has made 10 appearances for the Red Devils this season.
However, the 27-year-old has been long suffering from an inflammatory bowel virus and is to take a break from the game.
A United statement read as follows:
"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."