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Fergie could miss start of season

Sir Alex Ferguson could miss the beginning of next season after it was confirmed that he is to have a hip operation at the end of July.

• Payne: Block Chelsea path

Ferguson, 71, will undergo surgery when the club return from their three-week pre-season tour at the end of July. Although there is no timescale on how long Ferguson would reasonably need to recover, the club are due to face Manchester City or Wigan in the Community Shield on August 11 with their Premier League title defence starting the following week.

Manchester United have privately confirmed reports in the media that Ferguson is booked in for the operation when the club return from Thailand, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong.

Ferguson was taken ill at a function in Scotland nearly a year ago, although the nosebleeds he suffered were put down to the number of short flights he had undertaken. That forced him to miss pre-season matches in Norway and Germany and he also sat out a mid-winter break in Qatar.

At United's Carrington training ground on Friday, Ferguson remained in high spirits and poured champagne for the gathered journalists who attended his press conference as he celebrated a 13th Premier League title.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.

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