The Scotland international played 60 minutes for the club’s Under-21 side in a 2-2 draw with Fulham after undergoing surgery to resolve the chronic bowel disease ulcerative colitis in December 2012.
Fletcher has made just 12 Premier League appearances in the past three seasons, and the midfielder paid credit to all those at the Red Devils who have helped him on the road to recovery.
“It’s been a long time, so it’s good to get back tonight. I’ve been training for a few weeks now and the next progression is to get some match-time. I enjoyed it,” Fletcher told United’s website.
“The plan was to get to half-time and see how I felt, then get to 60 minutes and take it from there. Although I felt I could have gone on a bit longer, the plan was not to play more than that so I’m better sticking to the plan and not upsetting the sports science lads.
“They’ve been great, especially the doc Steve McNally. He’s worked closely with me, getting myself right and back and the support from the club has been fantastic – from Sir Alex Ferguson to the new manager and David Gill. Everyone at the club. I couldn’t ask for anything better.
“It’s been tough. Luckily, I’ve got a great family around me. They keep me going, keep me motivated and lift me when I’m down. All these factors contributed to me standing here today on the road to recovery.”
On a return to first-team action, Fletcher added: “I just want to be out there to help and do my best. The aim is to be back in the manager’s plans and help on the pitch.
“Although we’ve not started as well as we’d have liked, it was a very tough start, and I still expect us to kick on in the next few weeks.
“[A return is a] question for David Moyes. I’m going to hopefully have a few more Under-21 games and finish 90 minutes before trying to work my way into the squad. If I get a chance, I’ve got to be ready to take it.”