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Fletcher glad to see defenders back
Published : 01 Jan 2010 14:03:07
DARREN Fletcher is happy to help out anywhere in the United cause - but the Scotland star is hugely relieved they are starting to get some defenders back. With up to eight men injured at times over the past six weeks, Fletcher was one of the men Sir Alex Ferguson called on to help ease United through the crisis. An appearance at right-back was not entirely unusual given Fletcher did the job for a short while. But when it came to occupying one of the positions in a three-man defence that also included Michael Carrick and rookie Ritchie De Laet at Fulham, Fletcher's lack of experience was exposed. The demolition at Craven Cottage that day was viewed by many as the end of United's title hopes. Instead they managed to get Wes Brown and Nemanja Vidic on to the pitch at Hull and again on Wednesday when they featured against Wigan and the impact was immediate. Successive wins have cut Chelsea's lead at the top to two points, slashed the Blues' goal difference advantage by seven and restored a feeling of optimism to Old Trafford. "I am glad the defenders are back," said Fletcher. "We were desperate for that. "It is okay in one-off games to have midfielders playing out of position. When it goes to a run of four or five games it is inevitable that mistakes are going to happen because it is not natural." It could be argued Bobby Zamora, as improved and in-form as he is, is no Cristiano Ronaldo and there was no excuse for United subsiding at Craven Cottage quite as badly as they did. But Fletcher believes such an argument overlooks the basic facts. "It is not as if we are doing it in training or in the Sunday League," he said. "You are talking about Premier League and Champions League matches and you are in a position you have never played in during your entire life. "It is very difficult. We went to Fulham with basically just one defender fit in Patrice (Evra). "It was important for the team that we got our defenders back fit because they are top class." While Fletcher will still be on standby to fill in for a couple of weeks, once Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand return to duty, he should be free to concentrate on his midfield exploits. For now though, he is concentrating on what, for him, would be a first Old Trafford meeting with Leeds. The Yorkshire outfit have always shared a hate-hate relationship with their traditional Roses rivals and with 9,000 fans accompanying them across the M62, it promises to be a pretty heated occasion, on and off the field. After that comes a meeting with Manchester City in the Carling Cup before Premier League battle resumes again at Birmingham on January 9. "Everyone looks ahead and speaks about the Christmas period but the matches we are into now straight afterwards are just as important," said Fletcher. "I just take each game as it comes and think all the other players do the same thing. "You can look too far ahead of yourself and start thinking about what is to come whether you have an easy run of games. "But it never works out like that. We have the FA Cup, the Carling Cup semi-final and then more important league games. "The best thing to do is try to win them all."