Ferguson expects van der Sar to quit

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed Manchester United expect Edwin van der Sar to retire at the end of the season.

The Dutchman celebrated his 40th birthday earlier this year yet, apart from one mistake against West Brom in October, has still been performing to his usual high standards.



However, Van der Sar has always been mindful of the potential for a dip in standards and whilst the player himself has remained silent on the issue, Ferguson feels this campaign will be his last.



"We are planning for this being his last season," he said.



Given his vast experience, Van der Sar is bound to be an attractive proposition as a coach, although Ferguson admitted talks are still to take place on the matter.



"We have not discussed it," he said.



"But Edwin is a player who would be of interest in terms of his knowledge and standing in the game."



Having stated on numerous occasions his regret at not bringing in Van der Sar as an immediate replacement for Peter Schmeichel when the legendary Dane retired in 1999, Ferguson will want to avoid being similarly exposed this time around.



Already, Denmark international Anders Lindegaard has arrived and started training at United following his transfer from Aalesund, while Germany's Manuel Neuer continues to be linked with an Old Trafford move.



Lindegaard is certainly an interesting proposition, although Ferguson has revealed his newest recruit will not be eligible until after the Premier League encounter with Stoke on January 4.



"We can't register him until after the Stoke game because of the Bank Holiday," he said.



"But he is training with us now and that is important.



"It will bring him to a better level of fitness because he has not played for a few weeks. We will see how his progress goes."



It means Van der Sar is virtually certain to start the Boxing Day encounter with Sunderland, when United will look to consolidate their position at the top of the table.



Ferguson reported the majority of his squad have shrugged off the effects of flu, which would have ruled Nemanja Vidic and Anderson out of last weekend's trip to Chelsea, if it had not been postponed.



Paul Scholes and John O'Shea are missing due to groin and calf problems respectively as United prepare for a meeting with the Wearsiders, who had the better of a draw at the Stadium of Light earlier this season and are one of the Premier League's most progressive outfits.



"We were lucky to get a point at Sunderland," said Ferguson.



"It is the hardest game we have had away from home all season."



As usual, Ferguson will take stock of the league table once all four Festive matches have been completed, although he accepts postponements may make it a difficult task.



"My aim is to try and be the top by January 4. That would be good," he said.



"If we are, we have done well. By that time, the top of the league will have taken shape, depending on the weather. "

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