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Sir Alex: Rio in my plans

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists Rio Ferdinand remains part of his plans and he has no intention of letting him leave the club in the near future.

• Sir Alex warns of burn out

Speculation over Ferdinand's position intensified earlier this season when Sir Alex indicated that Ferdinand was no longer an automatic pick at centre-back.

The player has been linked with a move to MLS side Chicago Fire for months and it was suggested that Sir Alex's comments could speed up his departure from the Premier League. But the United boss wants the defender, who turned 33 earlier this month, to remain at Old Trafford.

Sir Alex was quoted as saying in the Star on Sunday: "I have no thoughts of letting him go. Rio's been a great player for us and it's important to explain his present position.

"There's nothing wrong with that - absolutely not. I have no issues at all with Rio - he can play for another couple of years quite easily. He's got a part to play. He's got experience and he's good in the dressing room - players look up to him.

"He's a big figure in our dressing room, so that will continue. I have no thoughts of letting him go."

"Rio is not as quick as he was five years ago - that happens. People do lose their pace but he's adjusting his game accordingly. We've been building a team for the day Gary left and Ferdinand left - it's a fact.

"We have to look ahead and there's nothing wrong with that - but it shouldn't mean that Rio looks upon it as the end of his football life."

Ferdinand's contract with the Red Devils expires in the summer of 2013.

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