Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has three games to prove his fitness ahead of the Champions League final with Barcelona, manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed.
Ferguson recently hailed the Scotland international as a “big-game player”, but he faces a fight to gain a place in the United squad for the Wembley Stadium showdown on May 28 following a virus that kept him on the sidelines for over a month.
The 27-year-old made his return to action as a substitute during the semi-final win over FC Schalke, and he now has games against Blackpool and Blackburn Rovers, as well as Gary Neville’s testimonial, to show he is 100% fit having lost a stone in weight while ill.
Red Devils manager Ferguson told the Daily Express: “Darren has put the weight back on and is back in training, but he has a bit to do yet. But, as far as the final is concerned, there is almost three weeks to achieve that.
“If he does reach the target, it will be a big boost to us as we all know he is big-game player.
“The 20 minutes he got against Schalke last week was certainly a step forward. His training, in terms of sharpness for such an important game, will be stepped up now.
“We have the Blackburn and Blackpool matches plus Gary Neville's testimonial, so there is game-time there to help him.”
Fletcher said of his illness: “It was just a bad virus, one of those things you can't really prepare for.
“But I hadn't foreseen the weight loss that came with it and that was the real problem.
“I couldn't come back into training until I'd put a good bit of that back on. Instead of two weeks, it ended up being more like five, but I'm feeling much better now.
“Often when you are injured you still come to the training ground every day - you're in the gym, doing your rehabilitation and you're seeing the lads. With this virus I didn't feel part of it at all.”