Manchester United target Anders Lindegaard to replace Edwin van der Sar

Having rebuffed talk of his own retirement, Sir Alex Ferguson is preparing for the succession of Edwin van der Sar.

Although it has not entirely been discounted that the 40-year-old could be persuaded to remain at Manchester United for another season, it appears Ferguson has targeted 26-year-old Denmark international Anders Lindegaard as his replacement.

Officials from Lindegaard's club, Aalesund FK have confirmed they are in Manchester and hope to conclude a deal over the next couple of days.

"(Sporting director) Henrik (Hoff) and I are in place in Manchester," said Aalesund chairman Bjarne Haagensen.

"It is close. We are in the middle of it."

As the Norwegian domestic season is over, it would appear most likely Lindegaard would join during the January transfer window if the deal does go through.

There has been no official comment from United but at 26, Lindegaard is two years younger than countryman Peter Schmeichel was when he joined the Red Devils and Ferguson would presumably be satisfied if Lindegaard was able to enjoy half the success of that particular Great Dane.

Meanwhile, Darren Fletcher is focusing his attentions on tomorrow's Premier League encounter with Wigan, accepting there are likely to be more shocks in store after a very strange start to the season.

The teams at the top themselves may be the usual suspects, but Chelsea, Arsenal and City have all lost three times, while United, although remaining unbeaten, have drawn more matches than they have won.

It is a trend Fletcher believes will continue throughout the campaign as the gap between the championship contenders and the rest becomes ever more narrow.

"The Premier League is tough," said the Scotland skipper.

"We experienced it last year. The standard has risen because the other teams are getting better.

"The battle for the top four used to be a given. Now there are a lot more teams involved.

"In general, because the league is getting harder, there will be a lot more points dropped than there have been in previous seasons.

"I think we are all expecting that."

Ferguson could recall Wayne Rooney after the striker's recent trip to the United States to work on his conditioning.

Rio Ferdinand is giving off all the right noises after coming off at half-time after reporting a tightening of his hamstring during England's midweek defeat to France.

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