• Alex Ferguson expects Rio Ferdinand to sign new contract
• 'I think he has had a great season,' says United boss

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Rio Ferdinand will be the next long-serving member of the Manchester United squad to sign a contract extension.

Ryan Giggs penned a new one-year deal yesterday ensuring his United career will extend beyond his 40th birthday.

Although Ferdinand is likely to sign, the 34-year-old has still to commit himself, amid rumours of interest from the US, China and the cash-rich Far East.

However, Ferguson is confident Ferdinand will remain at Old Trafford. "That is a strong possibility," he said. "It would have to happen before the end of the season."

Ferdinand is managing a long-standing back complaint and his performances this season suggest he still has a major role to play with United, even if England boss Roy Hodgson is not interested.

He is virtually certain to be involved against Real Madrid on Tuesday, when United look to secure their place in the Champions League quarter-finals.

"I think he has had a great season," said Ferguson. "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 play every game. But in terms of key matches he has been absolutely brilliant. Two weeks ago, against Real Madrid, he was excellent so we need to get him ready for the big one on Tuesday."


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