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Fletcher focused on making up for lost time with Reds

MANCHESTER UNITED midfielder Darren Fletcher was never worried about his ability to return from the virus that denied him a chance of playing in last season's Champions League final.

In total, the Scotland skipper was laid low for virtually six months, even staying behind to work on his fitness when the remainder of Manchester United's squad headed off to the United States for a successful summer tour.

Happily, Fletcher has now made a complete recovery after helping United to a season-stabilising win at Everton on Saturday, and is hoping to be involved at Old Trafford tonight, when Alex Ferguson's men take on Romanian minnows Otelul Galati.

"I feel fine. I knew I would be," said the midfielder.

"My natural fitness is always very good. I never had a problem with that, and I worked hard with the fitness coaches whilst the rest of the lads were away on tour.

"I was lucky in the respect I was able to get a few games for Scotland before I played for United, which definitely helped me. I have played 10 games so far this season and I feel as though I am back to the level I should be at."

Fletcher was part of the United side that overcame Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday, which suggests he may be on the bench in the Champions League at Old Trafford tonight.

However, fellow central midfielder Tom Cleverley has already been ruled out of that contest with an ankle injury, and with Michael Carrick also doubtful, Fletcher may be pressed into service again.

Although the after effects of that six-goal hammering by Manchester City will be felt for some time, Otelul should not interrupt the rehabilitation process: they are yet to gain a point from their opening three Champions League games.

However, it will be a measure of how far United have come in the need for balance between defence and attack, something that was not right in the opening weeks of the season.

"There has to be a balance in these matters," said Ferguson.

"Nobody likes losing goals first of all and we have lost quite a few this season.

"But we also want to make sure the attacking part is always threatening."