By Paul Clennam
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is set for an early return to pre-season training as he continues his recovery from bowel surgery, Goal can reveal.
The Scot cut his season short for the second consecutive year in December due to the chronic bowel condition that has seen him make only 12 Premier League appearances since the end of the 2010-11 campaign.
But Fletcher is determined to prove his fitness to new boss David Moyes ahead of the United first team returning to pre-season training on July 3 before flying to Bangkok to begin their tour of Asia.
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And, despite Old Trafford legend Paddy Crerand claiming that it would be a "miracle" for Fletcher to fight his way back into first-team contention under Moyes next term, the 29-year-old vowed in May to play for the club again to show his gratitude to former manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
"I couldn't have asked for anyone better to be helping me through my illness and I will always be enormously grateful for all the help and care he's shown," he told the Daily Express days after his mentor retired after 26 years as United manager. "I'm desperate to pay him back.
"Hopefully, as things progress and I get back playing again for United, that will allow me to show my gratitude for everything he has done and the support he has given."
The midfielder was given extended leave by the club in December 2011 in order to recover from his illness and confirmed that he would undergo surgery 12 months later to speed up his recuperation.