Darren Fletcher's recent absence from the Manchester United side was down to heavy winter pitches, according to his manager.
Fletcher has had just one minute for the first team since 5 December, raising concerns about the midfielder's fitness after a long absence battling a bowel condition.
Sir Alex Ferguson, though, says he has been forced to protect his fellow Scot from poor conditions at Old Trafford and elsewhere.
"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."