Rio Ferdinand is not thinking about the Manchester United captaincy at present - he is more concerned about getting his regular place back.
After three-and-a-half months out with the ankle injury he suffered in a freak collision with Emile Heskey on the first full day of training at the World Cup, Ferdinand finally made his United comeback on Tuesday night.
His return for the Champions League draw with Rangers could not have come at a better time given Sir Alex Ferguson's announcement 24 hours earlier that Gary Neville would no longer wear the captain's armband.
Nemanja Vidic's omission at Old Trafford offered Ferguson the perfect chance to let Ferdinand resume his previously held status as Neville's stand-in.
It puts Ferdinand in pole position to lead the team in Sunday's visit of Liverpool. The only problem is he is not sure of his place.
"The manager has a decision to make with the players," said Ferdinand. "There were 10 changes for Rangers and it could be the same again on Sunday.
"Hopefully I will be picked and part of the team. I have got to get picked first."
Ferdinand's presence was a comfort to new-boy Chris Smalling, who was starting his first competitive game for United.
A £7million summer arrival from Fulham, Smalling is content to adopt a patient approach, knowing there are so many games looming, opportunities are bound to come.
"When I came here I knew I would be competing with four or five world class central defenders," Smalling said. "Including pre-season I have managed to play with all of them now.
"Hopefully I can link up with them all and build partnerships.
"This is going to be a busy period for us and I want to put my name in the frame."
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