Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is confident that midfielder Darren Fletcher will resume his playing career next season after seeing his campaign ended by stomach surgery.
Fletcher, 28, has undergone surgery to try and cure his ulcerative colitis, which has he has been suffering with since March 2011 - limiting his United involvement over the past two seasons.
And news that the Scotland international's season has now been ended due to the surgery has prompted fears that his career could have come to a premature conclusion.
However, Ferguson believes that Fletcher will overcome his problem but may have to reinvent himself as a holding midfielder, rather than a box-to-box player, upon his return.
"This operation will hopefully solve the situation and we expect him to be back in July," Ferguson said. "This improves Darren's prospects of returning. It was something we thought would happen anyway. 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.
"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 does.
"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."