Rio Ferdinand still has another couple of good years ahead of him, insists Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Red Devils boss recently suggested that the centre-back would have to adjust his game as he gets older, which led to speculation that the £30million signing from Leeds United will be slowly phased out of the firing line.
"I think it [the talk about Rio's United days being numbered] generally came from the media after he'd not played in certain games," said Ferguson.
"From Rio's perspective as he's been such a great player for us, I think it was important to explain his present position and there's nothing wrong with that.
"What I said was absolute fact - he's not as quick as he was five years ago. That happens, people do lose their pace as they get older. But Rio is adjusting his game accordingly and has had two or three good performances since then.
"I've no issues at all with Rio, he can play for another couple of years quite easily. Of course we have to look ahead, there's nothing wrong with that, but it shouldn't mean Rio looks upon it as the end of his career.
"He's got a part to play with his experience and he's good in the dressing room. He's a big figure and players look up to him so that will continue."
Ferguson echoed those sentiments in a recent interview with Inside United, insisting that Ferdinand still has a future at Old Trafford.
"I can clarify the situation quite simply," he added. "Rio is 33 years old now so he's naturally going to have to adapt his game in some fashion. But he has the necessary attributes to compensate for [losing a yard of pace].
"It's not like he's a big, cumbersome oaf. Rio's a nimble, athletic and agile guy and he's still faster than most.
"He's a terrific player and he'll play many, many more games for us. He's still one of the best centre-backs in the country."