Manchester United may have to do without Sir Alex Ferguson on the touchline for the start of next season, according to ESPN. It is believed the 71-year-old Scot is to undergo a hip operation in July, which could leave him unavailable to lead his side in the early games.

Sir Alex Ferguson

United are scheduled to play the winners of this season's FA Cup (either Manchester City or Wigan Athletic) in the Community Shield on 11 August. The 2013/14 Premier League starts the following weekend.

The Old Trafford side will be on tour in the pre-season, with games in Thailand, Hong Kong, Australia and Japan scheduled. Ferguson will be present during the three-week tour and the operation will be held after he returns.

Injury Updates for Chelsea Fixture

Meanwhile, Ferguson still has three games left this season and the first of those three is a high-profile clash against Chelsea, at home. There is only pride at stake for Ferguson and his players but Rafael Benitez and the Blues travel with qualification for the Champions League at stake.

Ferguson addressed the press ahead of the Sunday game, revealing that midfielder Paul Scholes and defender Nemanja Vidic were back training. He also spoke of last weekend's 1-1 draw at Arsenal - a game that marked the return of former Gunners' striker Robin van Persie to the Emirates with a goal.

"Welbeck is out of Sunday. The rest are all fit. Scholes and Vidic are training and I'll probably put Scholes on the bench on Sunday to get him back into the fray. I'd love him to play in the Swansea game," the Scot explained, adding, "Chelsea are chasing a Champions League place as well and we'll be playing the strongest team we can."

Ferguson concluded by praising the Blues' form in recent weeks and said he wanted his players to enjoy a "good game" but finish the season on a high.