FOOTBALL NEWS

05/01/2013 07:58, Report by Adam Marshall
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Rio expected to stay

Sir Alex Ferguson expects Rio Ferdinand to stay at Manchester United beyond the end of the current season.

The experienced centre-back has been at Old Trafford since 2002 when he completed a big-money switch from Leeds United and has made 16 Barclays Premier League starts this term.

Although the 34-year-old is out of contract in the summer, as is the club policy when it comes to players of his age, the manager feels another extension will be signed with the defender and stresses it doesn't even come into his thinking when he's selecting his team.

"I don't think Rio wants to leave," the manager stated at his pre-West Ham press conference. "I don't think we're panicking about that. We are comfortable with that.

"I don't think his contract issue comes into it at all. It doesn't matter if he was here for another three years, we would still be dealing with his playing time the best we can.

"There is no way you would be expecting him to play every four days right through a season. Getting rest at the right time definitely helps him. His preparation is good. He does a lot of work on his pre-match preparation now. He does yoga and a lot of other things to help him sustain his playing time.

"I have said before, he can play on. I don't think he has the same issue with his back that he had a couple of years ago. It is manageable now. That is the important thing."

Jonny Evans' form has ensured he has been impossible to leave out of late and the Northern Irishman continues to attract praise from his manager.

"He is the future," said Sir Alex. "Nemanja [Vidic] and Rio know that. There is no doubt. His form is improving all the time. I think his experience helps. As he matures and gets experience year-by-year, he is getting better. There is no end to his improvement. He looks as if he is improving all the time. That, for us, is a great sign."

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