17/07/2012 09:54, Report by Nick Coppack in Durban
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Rio targets 35-game season

Rio Ferdinand believes he can make more than 35 appearances for Manchester United in 2012/13.

Although the defender, currently in South Africa captaining the Reds on the DHL 2012 pre-season tour, admits he's had his fair share of niggles in recent years, he's confident his body can still stand up to the rigours of top-flight football.

Speaking in Durban at a press conference ahead of United's clash with Amazulu FC on Wednesday, Ferdinand praised the Reds' medical staff and refuted claims he's now injury-prone.

"It's been well documented I had injuries over the last few seasons," he said. "But I think last season I played about 35 games for United [he played 38]. I felt I managed myself really well in terms of my back injury, with thanks to the physios and sports science team at United. They helped me through that as well.

"Long may that continue. Hopefully this season I can continue to play a similar amount of games. That would be great."

Indeed, Ferdinand's 38 appearances in 2011/12 was an improvement on his tallies in the two preceding campaigns (29, 21) and makes a mockery of claims that the 33-year-old can't handle life at the top anymore.

He's still one of the best centre-backs in the world... although he has no plans to force his way back into the England set-up following his non-inclusion in Roy Hodgson's squad for last month's European Championships.

"To be honest, I'm not thinking about playing international football," he said. "Manchester United is at the forefront of my mind. It's my club and this is what I love doing. If anything else comes of it then so be it.

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