"Rio's very good with the young players," added Sir Alex. "He has a good manner with them and is well respected."
One of those afore-mentioned rookies could even fill in for Rio against CFR Cluj on Tuesday if, as last season, the elder statesman is excused from the early overseas excursions in the Champions League.
"I think the boy Wootton did very well actually [against Newcastle in the Capital One Cup], I like him," added Sir Alex.
"He had a spell out on loan last season and he's a good user of the ball. He’s a good positional player, he reads the game well. He lacks an inch in the air which Evans and Ferdinand have got but then Steve Bruce wasn’t the tallest centre-half either.”
Wootton may have to be content with another watching brief from the bench, however, with Sir Alex saying there's "no chance" of fielding a so-called weakened team against the Group H leaders.
"Cluj knocked Basel out in the qualifiers, winning both games. And they won 2-0 at Braga, which is not an easy place to go. They'll be thinking they can go through after that result so we're taking the game very seriously. We’ll play the experienced players on Tuesday."