Manchester United manager David Moyes has hinted that Rio Ferdinand still has a role to play at Old Trafford.
The 35-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and there has been no indication he will be awarded a new deal having made just 13 appearances for the club this season.
United's defence suffered another blow on Saturday when Jonny Evans and Phil Jones – David Moyes' centre half pairing against Stoke – both went off injured during the first half, forcing Michael Carrick to drop back and play alongside Chris Smalling in defence.
Although the United boss will have Nemanja Vidic back at his disposal after serving his three match suspension following his straight red card against Chelsea, Moyes may turn to Ferdinand for the visit of Fulham this Sunday.
"Rio is back training. He's back and we will continue to use Rio at the right times and the right moments," said Moyes, Sky Sports report.
"Rio has made a great contribution, especially in the first half of the season. I played him in nearly all the opening eight to 10 games. He was a big part in helping me to settle.
"He has competition at centre-half but he is very much valued and looked at as one of the senior players."
Evans suffered a hamstring injury just 11 minutes in to the 2-1 loss to Stoke at the weekend and had to be replaced by Rafael. Later in the half Jones clashed with Jon Walters during an aerial dual and landed awkwardly, forcing him to be stretched off.
"It looks like Jonny Evans has a calf strain and Phil Jones has a concussion," Moyes told MUTV after the game.
"Phil is okay. He was unconscious for a period during the game, but he's had a head scan and the hospital has checked him and there were no problems. The medical team did everything right and we got him off the pitch as quickly as possible."