Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that central defender Rio Ferdinand is making good progress in his recovery from a back problem.
The 31-year-old England international has not featured for the Red Devils in the last month and Ferguson is still reticent to put an exact timescale on Ferdinand's return.
He told the club's official website:"Rio is coming along. He is making progress but it's difficult with back injuries.
"Nature sometimes helps you, but we are looking forward to him coming back."
Meanwhile, Ferguson is content that another England cap, Wes Brown, will continue to be an adequate replacement for Ferdinand.
He added:"When Wes Brown is fit, he is the best natural defender in the country.
"I keep thinking he is only 22 or 23, but we were doing a summary of our players' ages and contracts the other day and I saw Wes is 30.
"But he has such a young approach to life which you have to pay tribute to the lad for. He has done well to deal with all the things he has had to deal with and still come out fighting.
"Players need a run of games to achieve consistency and get the timing and tempo of their game correct. We are seeing that at the moment.
"Now he is fit again and looking fantastic, he gets better all the time. Long may it continue."