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Fergie hopes Rio focuses on United

Sir Alex Ferguson has told Rio Ferdinand that his England exile will allow him to extend his career at Manchester United.

• Fergie: Rio recall looks unlikely

Ferdinand, 33, has not represented his country for 17 months and is in the last year of his current contract at Old Trafford.

The defender was excluded from the Euro 2012 squad by Roy Hodgson - for "footballing reasons", according to the England manager - but John Terry's retirement from international duty has prompted talk of a recall.

Hodgson was at Old Trafford on Saturday to watch Ferdinand, who won the last of his 81 caps in June 2011, struggle as Tottenham won 3-2. Ferguson insists the veteran still has the quality to excel for his country but feels it will be to Manchester United's benefit if he remains out of favour.

"Rio could do the job for England, there's no doubt about that, but I don't see why he should," the United manager said. "He should concentrate on his career here, that's what I'd prefer."

Ferguson will not attempt to influence the player's thinking, though. "I wouldn't stand in his way over England," he said. "It's his decision."

Ferdinand is in his 11th season at Old Trafford since his £30 million transfer from Leeds and Ferguson believes such longevity benefits United.

"Rio is at one of those lucky clubs that can keep players for long periods," Ferguson added. "Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic are now in their seventh seasons here. If you can keep the continuity of players for more than four or five years, you get a sense of loyalty. They feel part of everything."

Ferdinand's injury problems have limited his appearances in recent years but Ferguson added: "When you get back injuries in your 30s you have to be concerned, but we have managed it well."

He also urged the 33-year-old to use United's two senior citizens as examples of how to extend his playing days.

"Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes are still playing," he said. "If he looks after himself and continues to manage the situation with his back, there's no reason why he can't play on."

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