After feeling compelled to drop Tom Cleverley and Marouane Fellaini on occasion this season manager David Moyes will be delighted to have another option in the middle of the park, with veteran of 200 Premier League games Darren Fletcher returning from illness to play for Manchester United’s Under-21s against Fulham.
Their Capital One Cup fourth-round tie with Norwich – which United are 7/4 to win both halves of – will come too soon for Fletcher, but the Scot will be hopeful of plenty of game-time this season when he proves his fitness at Old Trafford.
United have only lost one of the last 12 Premier League games the Scotland captain featured in.
The only top-flight defeat the defensive midfielder has had to endure since March 2011 was the 6-1 humbling at home to noisy neighbours Man City and at least he got on the scoresheet in that debacle.
United went on to keep three clean sheets in a row with Fletcher in the side following that famous reversal – the only Premier League tie he featured in during 2011/12 which saw the opposition strike more than once.
Fletcher doesn’t score many goals, but he has a happy knack of finding the net when it matters.
The Scot went 54 games in the red of United before breaking his duck for the club with the first goal in a 2-0 defeat of Middlesbrough in January 2005, but 11 months later it was Fletcher’s looping header that sealed a 1-0 victory over then champions Chelsea and gave Sir Alex Ferguson his first win against Jose Mourinho.
In his decade at Old Trafford the Dalkeith native’s greatest hits include his side’s second and third goals in the thrilling 4-3 home win against Man City at the start of 2009/10 and another brace in a 4-0 FA Cup thrashing of Arsenal in 2008.
Marouane Fellaini could be pushed into the attacking midfield position he so excelled in at Everton last season with Fletcher back in the United side.
The champions’ marquee summer signing has had a tough time of it since his £27.5m move from Everton, with certain elements of the Old Trafford faithful singling out the big Belgian for criticism, but Fellaini has been undertaking a much more defensive role than when banging in 11 Premier League goals for the Toffees last term.
If Fletcher is able to return to first team action then he will assume the role of midfield general at Old Trafford and leave his new teammate free to push forward and link up with strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.