'Darren Fletcher will be back – but must change his game,' says Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson is preparing himself for Darren Fletcher, the Manchester United and Scotland midfielder, coming back in a different role after surgery for his chronic bowel condition.

Attempts to treat the condition, ulcerative colitis, had failed, requiring the surgery.

The 28-year-old Scotland captain was diagnosed with the condition in March 2011. His 89th-minute substitute appearance against Newcastle United on Boxing Day proved to be his 10th and final appearance for United this season.

Ferguson said today that he expects Fletcher will return in July. "We tried to manage the condition with the treatments he was using," the United manager said.

"This is a blow for the boy but given he's been dealing with the condition for a couple of years now. This is another step in terms of his health and his career. This will improve his prospects.

"He has [already] had to change his game. When he played this season he wasn't the Darren Fletcher we knew. He was sitting in front of the back four and he did that very well. That could be his role in the future. Some of his performances were very good. When he comes back – and I'm sure he will – it will be in a different role."

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