van der sar 682x400 492036a - Furguson wants Van Der Sar to retire

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that he expects veteran goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar to hang up his gloves at the end of the season.

Van der Sar, who turned 40 in October, has continued to be a vital cog in the United machine despite his advancing years, but is predicted to finally retire next May. A mistake against West Brom has been the only blot on an otherwise impeccable copybook this season, with Van der Sar maintaining the high standards he has set over a 22-year career that began with Ajax in his native Netherlands.

But despite his ability to see off the challenges of Tomasz Kuszczak and Ben Foster to remain as United's No. 1, Ferguson does not believe Van der Sar will continue into the 2011-12 campaign.

"We are planning for this being his last season,'' Ferguson said, before revealing that he has not yet invited the Dutchman to join his coaching team. "We have not discussed it. 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 and Atletico Madrid's David de Gea continue 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,'' Ferguson said. "It is the hardest game we have had away from home all season.''