Rio Ferdinand is confident Manchester United will be able to deal with the loss of captain Nemanja Vidic to injury despite only having two fit centre-backs.
Vidic, 30, missed United's 2-1 victory against Liverpool on Sunday after complaining of tightness in his knee, before a subsequent examination revealed he will need an operation, keeping him out for two months.
The injury to the Serbia international leaves United with just Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as the only natural available cover, with both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling sidelined by long-term injuries.
Michael Carrick is likely to have to fill in if there are any further problems but Ferdinand, 33, is sure that United will be able to manage the situation.
"We got within one kick of winning the league last season having to deal with that, so fingers crossed with the experience we have gained having to do that, we should be in good stead," he told the Manchester Evening News .
"The disappointing thing has not been getting the stability in the defence - but again that is testament to our squad. We have players who can come in and perform. Jonny Evans came in at Liverpool for Nemanja Vidic and performed very well.
"We have had to deal with a lot of defensive changes for the last couple of years and we are getting used to it now. But it would help if we could get some consistency with players playing week in, week out. It is the bedrock for success."
The injuries to Jones, 20, and Smalling, 22, have allowed Rafael to cement his place as first-choice right-back.
And the Brazilian international's willingness to get forward, which has seen him chip in with two important goals this season, reminds Ferdinand of a younger version of himself.
"Rafa is his own worst critic," he said. "He is emotional and sometimes when he makes a mistake he has to make up for it immediately. That comes out in his game at times.
"When I was his age I was a lot like that. I used to be more interested in what was happening in the attacking part of the game and further up the pitch than defensive play. With experience that will disappear and you will see a top right-back."