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Oct 12, 2012

Fletcher: People thought I was finished

Darren Fletcher insists he never doubted he would play again during a 10-month absence with a chronic bowel problem – but revealed that others thought his career was over.

• Blog: Old dog, new tricks - United's shift in formation

• Blog: Stories of redemption for United

But the Manchester United midfielder, who was put on a drip in a hospital, said he knows that ulcerative colitis could recur in the future and admitted: "Every day is a battle for me."

Fletcher did not kick a ball at all between December and July but after making his United comeback as a substitute against Galatasaray last month and starting twice since, he is set to complete his return by captaining Scotland in their World Cup qualifier against Wales.

"I didn't doubt that I would play again," he said. "I always felt I would be back. I think I needed to have that kind of attitude. There were other people who doubted it but, for me, to be here I always needed to believe.

"I couldn't let myself think I might not make it. I always told myself I'd be back one day and fortunately that's the case. But it's not been plain sailing along the way by any stretch of the imagination.

"I would like to think Sir Alex [Ferguson] always knew I would be back, as well. Right now, I'm still at the stage of convincing him that I should be back in the team and playing two or three games a week."

Fletcher hopes he can manage his condition with the right diet and medication and said he was relieved to discover that football was not the cause of his illness.

He added: "The doctors just needed to find out if not playing would make me healthier. Then I would have been left with a decision to make. Do I want to play football or do I want to live a healthy life? But deep down I was always confident it wasn't going to end that way. I always felt we would find a medication that would work. I just had to stay positive even though many people, maybe even the doctors, didn't think I'd ever be back.

"The condition never goes away and that's the thing I have to live with. Every day is a battle for me. I have to watch my diet and take certain medication or it could come back.

"I'm never going to be 100% and that's something I'm going to have to live with for the rest of my life. But the position I'm in now, compared to where I was? I'd gladly accept being like this for the rest of my life. It's not ideal, but it's manageable."

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