Darren Fletcher targets Manchester United first-team return

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Darren Fletcher is determined to return to the Manchester United first team after making his first appearance of the season for the club's Under-21 side against Fulham on Monday.

The 29-year-old, who has sporadically featured for the Red Devils over the past two seasons due to his ongoing battle with ulcerative colitis, played 67 minutes of the 2-2 draw.

"It's been a long time so it's good to get back tonight," a relieved Fletcher told MUTV. "I've been training for a few weeks now and the next progression is to get some match-time. I enjoyed it."

The Scotland captain was keen to thank those who have stuck by him over the past two years, including the current Manchester United manager David Moyes, Sir Alex Ferguson and his family.

"The plan was to get to half-time and see how I felt," Fletcher continued. "Then get to 60 minutes and take it from there and, although I felt I could have gone on a bit longer, the plan was not to play more than that so I'm better sticking to the plan and not upsetting the sports science lads.

"They've been great, especially the doc Steve McNally. He's worked closely with me, getting myself right and back and the support from the club has been fantastic - from Sir Alex Ferguson to the new manager and David Gill. Everyone at the club. I couldn't ask for anything better.

"It's been tough. Luckily, I've got a great family around me - my wife, children, mum, dad and sisters. It's a great family and, if it was not for them, I wouldn't be standing here today. They keep me going, keep me motivated and lift me when I'm down. All these factors contributed to me standing here today on the road to recovery."

Fletcher admitted that it has been "frustrating" watching from the sidelines, adding: "I just want to be out there to help and do my best. The aim is to be back in the manager's plans and help on the pitch.

"If I can get back involved and help us on the pitch - we've a great squad, great manager and great staff. Manchester United are always strong. Although we've not started as well as we'd have liked, it was a very tough start, and I still expect us to kick on in the next few weeks."

Fletcher has made over 300 appearances for Manchester United, scoring 25 goals in all competitions, since breaking into the first-team during the 2002/03 campaign.

After a difficult first few seasons in the Red Devils' first team, Fletcher went on to establish himself as a vital component in the club's midfield, earning himself a place in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year at the end of the 2009/10 season as a result.

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Darren Fletcher

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