01/03/2013 22:30, Report by Mark Froggatt
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Sir Alex expects Rio to sign

Sir Alex Ferguson believes there is a "strong possibility" that Rio Ferdinand will sign a new Manchester United contract before the end of this season.

Ferdinand’s current deal expires in the summer, though he has already outlined a desire to extend his stay at Old Trafford and the boss is confident of making of that happen in the coming months.

Speaking during his weekly press conference at Carrington, Sir Alex was clear in his response when asked if the 34-year-old will replicate Ryan Giggs’ decision to sign a new contract.

“That is a strong possibility," the boss declared. “It would have to happen before the end of the season.

“I think he has had a great season. He has managed himself the right way and we have contributed to that in the preparation we give him. He doesn’t play every game in the same way that Ryan doesn’t. Two weeks ago, against Real Madrid, he was excellent. We need to get him ready for the big one on Tuesday.”

The boss went on to state his view that United’s defence has improved as the season has progressed, transforming from a depleted back-line that conceded early goals into a more flexible, experienced foundation that kept three cleans sheets during five matches in February.

“I think the awareness of our game has improved," he added. "In the early part of the season we were giving all these early goals away and that may have been a combination of the fact that we had defenders out.

“In the first game of the season we had to play Michael Carrick at centre-half because we had four centre-backs out.

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