Manchester - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has confirmed midfielder Darren Fletcher is yet to start training following diagnosis of a chronic bowel complaint.
But Ferguson said his fellow Scot would "have a position at the club anyway" if he was unable to return to competitive football.
Fletcher has been sidelined since December after United confirmed the precise mystery "virus" that had affected him since the previous season.
And whilst Ferguson insisted United would provide Fletcher with "all the time he needs", there must now be doubt over whether the Scotland international will ever play first team football again.
"He has not started training with us," Ferguson said on Thursday. "He has obviously got great challenges ahead.
"We are happy to be patient but he won't be starting the season.
"It is unfortunate because he is such a magnificent professional and such a nice lad. If it doesn't work for him, he knows he has a position at the club anyway."