If he plays today, Ryan Giggs will be making his 600th Premier League appearance, whilst Paul Scholes is ready to make his 700th appearance for the club and Rio Ferdinand his 400th.

“My personal feeling is that Ryan can play for another couple of years,” said Ferguson. “Paul’s a different physical specimen to Ryan and he’s had his injuries – two knee injuries, an eye injury – and yet he’s playing his 700th game. It’s phenomenal. Rio’s also playing his 400th game. It’s a landmark for the three players and it’s a great example to the younger players about what can be achieved if they sacrifice in football. These players have done that or they would never have got to this stage.”

Before the international break, United had been losing to Southampton before Scholes was subbed on. Whilst Robin van Persie scored a hattrick and claimed the headlines, the Dutchman claimed that it was Scholes who should have been named Man of the Match.

“You can’t judge Ryan’s performances at the moment because I haven’t played him! But he will be involved in a lot of games this season, as normal, and I’m sure we’ll see his ability,” said Ferguson. “Paul came on against Southampton and it was like opening a door to another room. He brought order to the game. His selection and accuracy of passes changed the game. Southampton didn’t know what to do with him. That’s a great credit to the lad. He’ll always produce quality. He could be playing in 10 years in a former players’ game and still show what a fantastic player he is. I’m lucky to have worked with them both. It’s not a matter of being proud to have had them. It’s more a matter of saying, ‘I’m lucky to have had two devoted players like that’. It’s been brilliant.”

1. Giggs 910
2. Charlton 758
3. Scholes 699
24. Ferdinand 399