LONDON - Manchester United still has problems in defense as it attempts to close the three-point gap at the top of the Premier League with a victory at Fulham on Saturday.

Rio Ferdinand, John O'Shea, Gary Neville and Wes Brown are still out injured, Nemanja Vidic is carrying a calf strain and United manager Alex Ferguson this week let goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar visit his native Netherlands to have a second opinion on the knee injury that has kept him out for four weeks.

Ferguson was hoping to have the veteran back to help his side in its battle with Chelsea at the top of the standings but does not know when he will return. United could be level on points with Chelsea by the time the Blues play at West Ham on Sunday.

"Edwin is going back to Holland," Ferguson said. "It is a change of scenery for him and the Holland team doctor will have a look at the injury.

"He has never had an injury like this in his life before so we think it is a good idea and expect him back in a couple of days."

Fortunately for United, it does not have another Champions League match until it meets AC Milan in mid-February and does not meet any of its top four rivals in the domestic league until it travels to Arsenal on Jan. 31.

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