Sir Alex Ferguson has hailed the influence of Rio Ferdinand on the Manchester United dressing room.

Ferdinand has been written off many times during the past three and a half years, firstly after the extent of his back problems first became evident. This season, though, Ferdinand has excelled and, although the 33-year-old has missed games, the most he has sat out on the trot has been three.

"I keep thinking I signed Rio three or four years ago," said Ferguson ahead of Monday night's Premier League encounter with Fulham at Old Trafford. "I forget he's been here for almost 10 years now. He has taken on that role of the influential person in the dressing room. He is great with the players."

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