Man Utd's Darren Fletcher faces 'great challenge' to play again
Sir Alex Ferguson says Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher will be given another role at the club if he cannot make a comeback from a chronic bowel complaint.
Fletcher has been out of first team action since November with ulcerative colitis, but had been hoping to make his return at pre-season training.
"He has obviously got great challenges ahead," said manager Ferguson.
"If it doesn't work for him, he knows he has a position at the club anyway."
Fletcher, 28, has been missing from the United first team since scoring in the 2-2 Champions League draw at home to Benfica on 22 November.
Ferguson said the club would provide the Scotland international, who signed a four-year extension with United in March 2011, with "all the time he needs".
- Age: 28
- Man Utd appearances: 302
- Man Utd goals: 23
- Scotland appearances: 58
- Scotland goals: 7
- Honours: 4 Premier League titles (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011), 1 FA Cup (2004), 2 League Cups (2006, 2010), 1 Champions League (2008), 1 World Club Cup (2008)
- Debut: v Basel, 12 March, 2003 (Champions League second group stage)
- Most recent game: v Benfica, 22 November, 2011 (Champions League group stage)
"We are happy to be patient but he won't be starting the season," he added. "It is unfortunate because he is such a magnificent professional and such a nice lad."
Ferguson was speaking at a news conference to introduce his two summer signings, England Under-18 international Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa, who has signed from German Double-winners Borussia Dortmund.
And the United manager is keen to add one more new face to his squad before the start of the season.
"There will possibly be one more," he said. "We have always done well in terms of getting players in at the end of the season. That is the right time.
"But always in a European Championship or World Cup year, there is a delay in the transfer industry.
"That is over now and we are still trying to get one more in."
Kagawa is expected to make his United debut on the club's pre-season tour to South Africa later this month.
The Japan midfielder, 23, is confident he can prove a shrewd signing after winning back-to-back titles with Borussia Dortmund.
Kagawa is embarking on English language lessons to help him settle into his new surroundings.
"Language is very important to me," he said through an interpreter. "I'm very motivated to learn English. I hope I can learn it quickly so I can communicate with my team-mates very soon.
"Joining United is definitely the greatest challenge of my career and I hope to learn and improve every day."
Teenager Powell, who joined from Crewe, has being training with United's first team.
"I went straight into working with the first team on some possession work - although I got nutmegged on my first day," said the 18-year-old.
"It was much more relaxed at Crewe and you felt in a comfort zone there, but now I'm here I know I have to work hard every day and be at my best.
"Having that challenge will only help me progress."