Wes Brown will fly home early from Manchester United's tour of South Africa following the death of his pregnant sister, manager Sir Alex Ferguson said on Monday.
Brown's half-sister, Claire Fallows, 36, died in hospital on Saturday.
She was around three months pregnant and was understood to have a history of heart problems.
Sir Alex said that the England defender would return to the UK on Wednesday from the pre-season tour.
It is not known if Brown, 28, will play for Manchester United against Orlando Pirates in Durban on Tuesday.
The death of his sister is a further blow after his father, Bancroft, died in February.