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Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011

Illness forces Fletcher to take break


London — After months of putting his health at risk while playing with a chronic bowel disease, Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has been forced to take an extended break from soccer to rest and recuperate.

The 27-year-old Scotland captain, who did not play between March and September with what United previously called a "virus," has been suffering from ulcerative colitis — an inflammatory bowel condition.

Fletcher was on the bench last Wednesday when the Premier League champions lost at FC Basel in the Champions League and last played on Nov. 22 against Benfica, scoring in the 2-2 draw.

"Whilst he was able to maintain remission of symptoms for a considerable period this has proved more difficult recently," United said Tuesday on its website. "Darren's continued desire to play and his loyalty to both his club and country has probably compromised the chances of optimizing his own health and fitness."

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