‘I’d be very concerned about playing’ – Ex-Manchester United midfielder Fletcher understands coronavirus concerns

Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher has admitted that he would be “very concerned” about playing in the current climate.

Negotiations are currently taking place in England as to how best to restart the season after an unscheduled recess now stretching more than two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has infected nearly 250,000 in the UK, killing close to 35,000.

Fletcher, who spent 12 years as a professional at United, winning five Premier League titles and the 2008 Champions League among his honours, had his career struck by ulcerative colitis in 2011 and says that he would be especially vulnerable if he were playing.

“With my illness I would be one of those players that is a high risk,” he told BBC Radio Scotland. “I'd be very concerned about that, but at the same time I love playing.”

With plans afoot for the Premier League to begin again in June, he believes there are still significant risks around restarting the professional game, despite the return of the Bundesliga in Germany behind closed doors at the weekend.

“It's a massive concern. We're not out of this situation by any means,” he said. “Footballers will not only be concerned for themselves and their lives and the rest of their careers but they'll be worried about bringing it back to their family.

“Sport is important to everyone and we've all missed it but we're talking about matters of life and death here and I think that guarantees would have to be in place - but who can guarantee that players are going to be safe? I don't think anyone can guarantee that at this moment in time.”

Having left Championship side Stoke City at the end of last season, the 36-year-old admits that his playing days may well be over.

“I haven't officially announced anything and I'm just happy to let time pass,” he said. “It has been a long time now and I think I have finally got my head around that I probably won't be playing again. I don't think I'll ever fully accept it but I'm getting there now.”

Fletcher amassed 342 appearances for Manchester United and featured in 341 Premier League fixtures for the Red Devils, WBA and Stoke, while he played for Scotland on 80 occasions.