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The Scot has only made 13 first-team appearances since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in December 2011, but returned to action on Monday with the Under-21 side

Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has returned to competitive action for the first time since Boxing Day 2012 with an appearance for the club’s Under-21 side.

Fletcher has made just 13 first-team appearances since being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in December 2011.

But the Scotland international played 67 minutes of United U21s' 2-2 draw with Fulham, and took the opportunity to praise boss David Moyes for his support after the match.

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“He's [Moyes] been liaising with the doctors and speaking to me regularly,” Fletcher told MUTV.

“He's got an important job right now working with the first team, but he's given me all the time I need, he's been a great support and I couldn't ask for any more.

“I'm hoping to get a few more U21s games in, obviously I need to finish the 90 minutes and try to work my way into the squad, wait for a chance and I've got to be ready to take it.”

The Sweeper revealed on Sunday that Fletcher had been considered for a surprise appearance in the Capital One Cup tie with Norwich following two weeks of training, but the decision was made to give him a more gentle run-out.

"I've been training for a few weeks now and the next progression is to get some match-time. I enjoyed it," he added.

"The plan was to get to half-time and see how I felt. 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."

The Scot also praised his family for motivating him back to fitness after he underwent surgery on his bowel in January.

“It's been tough but luckily I’ve got a great family around me, wife, children, mum, dad, sisters, I've got a great family around me and if it wasn't for them I probably wouldn't be standing here today, they keep me going, they keep me motivated and lift me when I'm down,” he added.

“All these factors contribute to me starting here today on the road to recovery.”

In front of former United legend David Beckham, the Red Devils’ youngsters came from two goals behind to record a 2-2 draw, thanks to an 87th-minute equaliser from Will Keane.

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