Neville: Rafael ready to shine
The position has proved something of a headache for the Red Devils' manager Sir Alex Ferguson in recent seasons, with Neville struggling for fitness and form in the twilight of his career and Rafael still rising through the ranks at Old Trafford.
John O’Shea, Wes Brown, Jonny Evans and even Darren Fletcher have all filled the void at some point with mixed results, but the Brazil Under-21 international’s consistent displays in the last few months have convinced Neville that he will be the one to make the right-back berth his own over the coming seasons.
"You can now say we've got a first-choice back four for the first time in a few years," he told the club's official website.
"Rafael's always had ability. He gets to the ball quickly, he is aggressive, he defends his position well, he is tough, courageous, good on the ball, he gets forward well and provides energy in attack.
"But he has really developed in the last six months with games and experience. He has also got a great attitude. He is more than capable of going on to become United's right-back for many years.
"We haven't had a consistent right-back in the last couple of years I have been around. Wes Brown and John O'Shea have played some games as well as Rafael, but in the last four or five months we've had a consistent performer in that position."
By Liam Twomey