Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has admitted Darren Fletcher's enforced hiatus from football "is bad news for him and bad news for the team".
Manchester United yesterday confirmed Fletcher was taking an extended break from football due to his suffering of ulcerative colitis, a chronic inflammatory bowel condition.
The 27-year-old is unlikely to play for Manchester United again this season and Cleverley, who is also sidelined with an ankle injury, admits he is "gutted" for his teammate.
Although Fletcher's absence will be keenly felt by Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson given his status within the squad, Cleverley suggests the Red Devils have enough in reserve to compensate for the Scot's absenteeism.
"I am gutted for Fletch," the Manchester United youngster told Sky Sports News. "I'm not too sure about what it is, but I'm afraid it is bad news for him and bad news for the team.
"He is a massive player for us and it is a shame, because we are having a bit of a problem in centre-midfield.
"But Manchester United have got Giggsy, Ji, Carrick, Phil Jones doing a job, and Darron Gibson still in the squad. So that's what squads are for."
While happy to cite Manchester United's strength in reserve, Cleverley was also full of praise for Fletcher, whose Old Trafford career has been forged on his professionalism on and off the pitch.
"He is a fantastic pro," the 22-year-old Manchester United playmaker continued. "Growing up through the ranks, he is someone that has done the same journey that I have.
"So he is someone I have always looked up to."