Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Manchester United will rip up their Old Trafford pitch in the summer after it became so heavy Darren Fletcher has been unable to play on it.
Scotland international Fletcher has been a notable absentee during United's packed festive programme.
After battling back to fitness after being struck down by a chronic bowel condition, Fletcher was involved in four matches in the space of a fortnight at the end of last month.
However, he was on the pitch for just a minute of United's festive campaign, being introduced as a late substitute in the Boxing Day win over Newcastle.
And the reason, according to Ferguson, lies in a surface he says has simply "collapsed".
"The pitches over the last few weeks have not suited Darren," Ferguson said. "They are really heavy pitches. Unfortunately, Old Trafford seems to have collapsed in the last two weeks.
"We have had six great years out of the pitch. Our groundsman, Tony Sinclair, has done a fantastic job. But it is looking tired now and I think we will have a new pitch in the summer."
It leaves Fletcher sweating on a place in Ferguson's squad for tomorrow's FA Cup third-round tie at West Ham, which Wayne Rooney will definitely miss with a knee injury.
Rooney suffered the knock in training on Christmas Day, with Ferguson initially thinking the England striker would be back in action within a fortnight, in time for next Sunday's key clash with Liverpool.
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