(CNN) -- Manchester United have been dealt a blow ahead of the new Premier League season with goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar sidelined for the start of the campaign.
Van der Sar cut a commanding figure in the United goal last season.
The 38-year-old Dutchman has undergone surgery on a broken finger and bone in his left hand, and will be out for up to eight weeks, the official Web site of the Engish champions www.manutd.com reported on Wednesday.
Van der Sar picked up the injury saving a penalty from Danijel Pranjic in United's 7-6 shoot-out defeat to Bayern Munich in the pre-season Audi Cup tournament in Germany last weekend.
United say that the former Dutch international will not be back to full fitness until the end of September, over six weeks into the season.
His misfortune is likely to offer England international Ben Foster his chance of a prolonged spell as United first choice.
Manager Alex Ferguson clearly sees Foster as the long-term replacement for Van der Sar.
"He's seen as one of the best young goalkeepers in England and we genuinely see him as a successor to Edwin," Ferguson said in July as Foster signed an extended contract at Old Trafford and has talked up his chances of playing in the 2010 World Cup finals.
Ferguson can also call on Tomasz Kuszczak and his goalkeeping selection for the Community Shield against Chelsea at Wembley this weekend will be a pointer for the season.
Van der Sar kept 21 clean sheets for United in the league last season and set a British record of 1,311 minutes without conceding a goal.