Sir Alex Ferguson has assured Chris Smalling he is not going to be forgotten but feels Rio Ferdinand proved on Wednesday night why he was immediately drafted back into the Manchester United starting line-up.
Ferdinand had been missing for nine weeks with a calf injury sustained in the warm-up to United's shock Premier League defeat at Wolves. Yet Ferguson still had no hesitation in pitching the deposed England skipper straight into the white-hot atmosphere of a Champions League quarter-final, with Smalling dropping to the bench.
"It was a terrible for me to explain to Chris Smalling that he wasn't playing given the way he has performed for us this season," said Ferguson. "He understood. He is part of the squad and he won't be forgotten. But it's Rio's experience isn't it. He has such composure.
He added: "He talks to players. When Antonio Valencia went to full-back he was talking all the time. He was phenomenal."
Ferguson was not surprised by Ferdinand's contribution.
"I was waiting for the moment where he might tire a little bit but there was no sign of it," he said.
"He had done 10 days' physical work before he started football training.
"People might think it was a gamble. My only gamble was if he wasn't really up for it. Whether we had to talk him into it.
"That wasn't the case. He came to me. He said I am ready. It was great news."