Sir Alex Ferguson believes Paul Scholes could extend his Manchester United playing career beyond the end of the season but cautioned that an England comeback could be a step too far.
The 37-year-old midfielder came out of retirement in January and has impressed to such an extent that there have been calls for Scholes to emerge from his self-imposed international exile.
Scholes played the entire 90 minutes in Manchester United's 2-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend, but he has yet to make a firm decision on whether to break his eight-year England retirement should Stuart Pearce ask him to play in the friendly against Holland later this month.
However, having decided against a shock recall to England's 2010 World Cup squad, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes there is little chance that Scholes will be tempted by an international return.
"Do you really honestly believe that?" Ferguson is quoted in the Telegraph. "I don't think there's any chance of that. To go back again to play for England, eight years after his last game, is a big, big step.
"I think Paul will be concentrating [on Manchester United], if he decides to go on. Whether he decides to stay is a part that hasn't been settled yet, but with the form he has shown, there is no reason why he can't play on next season. I just think it is too big a step to go back to England."
"His reason for refusing last time [at the World Cup] was that it was late in the day," Ferguson added. "Two years on, to go back to play for England after seven years... it's a big step."
Scholes is expected to start for Manchester United on Thursday night when they travel to Ajax for their Europa League round of 32 clash in Amsterdam. And while Ferguson has refused to be drawn on a possible extension to Scholes' United contract, the Scot lauded the midfielder's recent displays; likening him to Barcelona's Xavi.
"It's hard to describe Scholes," Ferguson told the official Manchester United Web site. "Honestly, on Saturday, he was unbelievable. It's like Barcelona talking about Xavi, the way we talk about Paul.
"I said to Paul at the time [he decided to retire] and said, 'you could play 25 to 30 games for me this season,' but he said it's not enough.
"I was being sensible about that because he was approaching 37 years of age and for a midfield player to do it at that age is very difficult. I was perfectly honest with Paul because that was the future.
"But when he decided to come back I was delighted and he seems to have brought an amazing turnabout for us in the sense of the order and class he brings to the team."