Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery to resolve his ulcerative colitis condition.
The 28-year-old has returned to the Red Devils first-team following an extended absence last term, making just three Premier League appearances.
The Red Devils revealed that his latest absence has been planned for some time and that the Scottish international will be unavailable for the rest of the current campaign.
“We wish to stress this was a planned procedure undertaken at the optimal time having achieved a period of sustained good general health, as illustrated by the fact that Darren has trained with the team regularly this season and been available for selection right up to the operation.
“Whilst it is frustrating for both Darren and the club that he won’t be able to contribute further during this campaign, this decision has been taken with our full support in the best interests of his long term health.
“We look forward to him returning next season with this problem firmly behind him.
“We would be grateful if his privacy could be respected at this time and in the coming months in order to aid his recuperation.”
Fletcher has suffered with the problem since early 2011, although it was initially believed to be a virus.
Medical procedures have since revealed the extent of his condition and it is hoped that his operation may help him recover.
He has made 13 appearances in all competitions this term as Sir Alex Ferguson eased him back into first-team duties.
It is unclear as to how the club will cope in his absence and whether they will look to draft in a replacement during the January transfer window.