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By ESPN Staff

Ferguson backs Neville England recall

Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Manchester United skipper Gary Neville for an England recall.

The 33-year-old has not featured for his country since the friendly defeat against Spain at Old Trafford in February last year.

Having played in only two European Championship qualifiers under Steve McClaren due to various injuries, he then broke an ankle which put him on a downward spiral that saw him spend 15 months on the sidelines.

Happily restored to the United first-team squad on a regular basis, Neville's career is still being managed with military precision by Ferguson as he looks to get the most from his captain.

However, the Scot would have no worries at all if Fabio Capello was to draft Neville into his squad for next month's friendly with Germany in Berlin. After all he has been through, Ferguson believes it is the least Neville deserves.

''If Gary were to get a call-up for England it would be fantastic for the lad,'' said the United boss.

''I would not be concerned at all. In fact, I would be really pleased for him because I think it would give him a great boost.

''He deserves it after what he has gone through over the last year and a half.

''The perseverance he has shown and the faith he has in himself has been tremendous.''

Unlike team-mate Ryan Giggs, who abandoned his Wales career at around the same age, Neville has given no indication he does not want to add to his 85 caps.

There is no doubt Neville's loyalties remain at Old Trafford but Ferguson is confident the opinionated Bury-born star could combine appearances for club and country.

''He has been out for 18 months, which is a long time,'' said Ferguson.

''But he is such a determined lad, I am sure he would cope with the rigours of playing club football as well as internationals.''

In fact, a few games for England could benefit both Neville and Ferguson.

The United manager already had a tough selection dilemma at right-back given Wes Brown's outstanding season there last year before the emergence of teenage Brazilian Rafael.

At just 18, Rafael was not expected to force his way into the senior picture quite as quickly as he has. But the youngster has impressed every time he has been called upon; his latest appearance coming against West Brom last Saturday.

Neville took over for the 'Battle of Britain' Champions League duel with Celtic on Tuesday, leaving Brown to come in for tomorrow's trip to Everton as Ferguson continues his juggling act.

''The way we are trying to manage Gary at the moment is not playing him Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday,'' said Ferguson.

''I wanted as much freshness in my team as possible against West Brom last weekend and Wes Brown had been away on international duty, so I brought in Rafael, whose enthusiasm and excitement to play was a contribution to the performance.

''On Tuesday I felt it was going to be an emotional night with Celtic bringing a massive support down and going on what happened two years ago I felt Gary's experience would be important.

''Tomorrow it could be Wes Brown's turn.''


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