Paul Scholes should play on beyond this season after a shock return from retirement that has saved Manchester United a fortune in the January transfer window, according to the club's ex-captain Gary Neville.
Scholes, the 37-year-old former England midfielder who retired at the end of last season, made a winning return for United in their 3-2 FA Cup Third Round victory at Manchester City on Sunday amid rapturous applause.
United have said Scholes has made himself available until the end of the present campaign.
"He missed football and he wanted to carry on," former England defender Neville, now a television pundit, told reporters on a visit to Mumbai to promote the Manchester United Cafe Bar.
"According to me, Scholes should still be playing football and playing for a good two years.
"I think it's a great boost for Manchester United that he comes back and plays at this time when the team has suffered so badly with injuries. We have seen so many players playing out of position in the midfield."
United, who suffered an early exit from the Champions League this year, have been hit by a succession of injury problems, with central midfielders Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher and Anderson sitting out a large number of matches.
Neville, dressed in a red United T-shirt and blue jeans, said Scholes was an individual case, however.
"He wanted to come back and play football irrespective of the problems that Manchester United have had," he said.
Not a big fan of the January transfer window, Neville said Scholes' return would allow manager Alex Ferguson to refrain from paying inflated prices to plug the midfield gap.
"People get fascinated with the January window but it's never been a success for Manchester United or any other club," he argued. "Chelsea last year signed David Luiz and Fernando Torres for 75 million euros.
"You pay inflated prices. When a player signs at the start of the season in June, he has three months to get used to [the club]. He signs in January and he has February, March and April to settle and the season ends in May. So you don't get any benefits.
"I don't see the benefits of signing a player in January. So Scholes coming back in and hitting the ground running is beneficial for the club."
It is a view shared by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who said there was not a better player in terms of composure and passing ability than Scholes and who also dismissed media criticism that the club were taking a backward step by bringing him back.
"They're making out it has been a 'regressive step' for Manchester United. How can it be regressive?" Ferguson said in an interview with Yahoo!.
"You're getting a player for nothing who has been part of the club for 20-odd years, so how can it be regressive?"
Ferguson was delighted to have managed to keep Scholes' return under wraps until shortly before the FA Cup game, saying the club had not told any of the players beforehand.
"We did that simply because of the impact value," he said. "We were going away from home... we had 5,000 fans at that end of the ground and as soon as they knew his name was on the team-sheet they were fantastic, there was a great response."
A huge fan of Ferguson, Neville said United's recipe for success has been the right blend of youth and experience.
"He always believes in young people and gives them the opportunities," said Neville, who spent his entire career at United and captained the side for five years. "With Sir Alex Ferguson he changes the team every two years.
"He moves the team along by introducing new players. He never lets the team grow old together."comments