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Alarm bells sounding for Everton

Everton
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Fletcher to miss Utd's pre-season tour

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher will miss the Premier League champions' pre-season tour of the USA as a consequence of the mystery virus that also wrecked his 2010/11 campaign.

Fletcher was sidelined for nearly all of United's league run-in and missed the Champions League final, but it was envisaged the Scotland international would have fully recovered during the summer and he would be on Monday's flight across the Atlantic.

However, when United confirmed their travelling party, Fletcher was not in it. Instead the 26-year-old will remain in Manchester, spared the accumulation of travelling time to spend the next three weeks trying to get himself right for the new campaign.

If all goes well, Fletcher could be involved in Paul Scholes' testimonial against New York Cosmos on August 5, or the Community Shield showdown against Manchester City two days later.

A United spokeswoman said: "Darren will remain at Carrington to undergo an individualised conditioning programme given he missed a large proportion of last season. This will help him catch up fitness-wise to the levels of the rest of the team.

"We tried to accelerate things but we want to give him the best opportunity to be fully fit for the new season. We feel a reduction in the amount of time Darren spends travelling will help him achieve this.''

With Fletcher missing, Ferguson will take an initial squad of 21 with him on Monday. Of his new signings, only England international Ashley Young will be on board, having taken the number 18 shirt vacated by newly-retired Paul Scholes.

David de Gea and Phil Jones, who will wear one and four respectively, have both been given an extended break and will join later in the tour along with Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Chris Smalling, who signed a new five-year contract yesterday.

Of his experienced players, Darron Gibson and Tomasz Kuszczak miss out, the clearest hint yet that neither has a United future.

United open their tour against New England Revolution in Boston on Wednesday before heading to Seattle, Chicago, New Jersey and Washington.

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