Ryan Giggs believes Manchester United are benefiting from Rio Ferdinand's ongoing international exile, saying that the country's loss is most definitely the Premier League club's gain.
The 34-year-old defender showed his class once again in the Red Devils' 'backs-to-the-wall' display against Real Madrid in the Champions League this week, helping to earn Sir Alex Ferguson's side an important 1-1 draw in their last-16 first leg clash at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Giggs insists Ferdinand is still at the top of his game, and can't understand why he continues to be overlooked by England manager Roy Hodgson, whose decision to omit the centre-back from his Three Lions squad for the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine last summer, for 'footballing reasons', was met with widespread criticism.
The Manchester United defender has not featured for England since winning his 81st cap in June 2011, and has been in the international wilderness ever since the trial of former captain John Terry, who was accused of making a racial slur at his younger brother, Anton, in a game between Chelsea and QPR at Loftus Road in October the same year.
"We're just happy that he's playing so well for Manchester United," Giggs reflected. "The rest of the stuff we're not too bothered about as long as he keeps putting in performances like that.
"He's just a top player. He has proved that again and again, and he proved it again on Wednesday night. He has been playing like that all season."
Hodgson is showing no signs of making a U-turn on his decision, though, and reacted angrily when pressed on the issue of the Old Trafford defender last week, ahead of England's international friendly victory against Brazil at Wembley.
"To still be playing at 34 at that standard is testimony to the way he has looked after himself and the ability he has got," added the Welsh midfielder. "You do have to change your game as you get older and he has done that really well."