Monday 26 March 2012
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping defender Rio Ferdinand can remain a big influence at the club for years to come.
Ferdinand's contract at Old Trafford runs until the end of next season, but Ferguson expects the 33-year-old to be at the club much longer.
England centre-half Ferdinand has struggled with a back problem in recent years, but he is likely to line-up against Fulham on Monday having already made more Barclays Premier League appearances this season than any campaign since 2008-09.
"He is still young for a centre-back," said Ferguson. "In normal terms you would expect a centre-back with his athleticism to play well into their thirties anyway.
"He has taken on that role of the influential person in the dressing room"
- Sir Alex Ferguson
"We all know about his back problem, so we've had to manage that.
"He has adapted really well to the challenge of making sure he is fit and fresh to play in the games when we need him.
"How long he goes on for is all down to how he feels physically, other than that he has no issues at all.
"He has taken on that role of the influential person in the dressing room and he is great with the players."
Ferguson signed Ferdinand from Leeds in the summer of 2002 and the defender has since made over 250 League appearances for the Red Devils and won five titles.
United will go back to the top of the League table with a draw or a win at Old Trafford against Martin Jol's Fulham side.