Manchester United have granted goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar compassionate leave after his wife suffered a brain haemorrhage.
Van der Sar, who has himself been sidelined in recent weeks with a knee injury, has been given permission to return to Holland on an indefinite basis.
"Annemarie had a problem over in Holland a week ago and has been admitted to hospital. That is the best place for her to be. They have examined her twice and are trying to get to the root of it," explained United boss Sir Alex Ferguson.
The 39-year-old Dutchman has not played since suffering a knee injury during United's 3-0 win over Everton on November 21.
"I have told Edwin to stay over there. There is no point in him being here. The best thing is for him to be with his wife," continued Ferguson.
"Hopefully she will make a good recovery."
Meanwhile, Ferguson has confirmed that skipper Gary Neville will return from a groin injury to bolster his injury-ravaged defence for Wednesday's Premier League encounter with Wigan Athletic.