The Scotland captain has revealed the extent of the struggles he faces with ulcerative colitis, an illness that threatens to prematurely end his career at Old TraffordManchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has admitted he will never completely recover from the bowel condition which sidelined him for 10 months and threatened to end his career.
The Scotland international has surprised himself with the progress he has made this season, making four senior appearances to date, and believes that his experience has helped him to make a swift return to first-team football.
"The condition never goes away and that's the thing I have to live with," Fletcher told reporters. "Every day is a battle for me. I have to watch my diet and take certain medication or it could come back again.
"But I am back quicker than I expected. It has been a lot quicker, but that maybe comes down to experience.
"Maybe you don’t have the sharpness in your legs yet, but it is in your mind, where you can react quicker because you have been in the situations before.
"I think my legs are coming back. If you had said I would be in this position back in June and July, I wouldn't have believed you, but as I am here now I think it is going well."
Fletcher returned to the side against Galatasaray in the Champions League in September, and the 28-year-old admitted that manager Sir Alex Ferguson's caution caused the player to the delay his comeback to the senior squad.
"I was impatient but the manager told me I had to be patient," Fletcher added.
"When you have been out for a long time you are desperate to play so maybe you do push yourself, but I had good people around me like the sports science staff, the manager and the reserve manager Warren Joyce.
"They were there with the reins on me, holding me back. Deep down, I always knew they were right but it is hard to accept because you are desperate to get back as quickly as possible.
"I feel great, but when you have been out for a long time it is going to take time before you are 100 per cent."