Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Manchester United are in advanced negotiations with Rio Ferdinand over extending the defender's contract.
The 29-year-old England international still has two years remaining on his existing deal, but is close to committing his long-term future to the club according to Ferguson.
Ferdinand, who has captained both club and country in recent weeks, recently claimed he wanted to finish his career with the Red Devils.
"We've been negotiating for a few weeks now. I don't think we're far away, but negotiations these days are never easy," revealed Ferguson.
"Rio's form has been outstanding. I thought in the second half against Roma his interceptions in particular were excellent.
"He's got great speed which allows him to beat forwards to the ball."
Meanwhile, club captain Gary Neville will be included in the 20-man squad for Sunday's trip to Middlesbrough after more than a year on the sidelines.
The 33-year-old right-back has been sidelined with ankle and calf problems since March 2007, but is back in first-team contention after a series of run-outs for the club's reserves.
Neville's return to the squad has been accelerated by the loss of Nemanja Vidic for three weeks with a knee problem picked up against AS Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, Portuguese winger Nani will also be absent as he continues to be troubled by a thigh problem.
"It's been over a year since Gary's last game," said Ferguson. "That isn't easy at his age but what always encouraged us was his enthusiasm to return.
"Nemanja's injury is a loss, but we hope to have him back in three weeks. I think we can cope. We've got Mikael Silvetre and Gary Neville back.
"To have those personalities and experienced players back in the squad can only help us.
"There's also Gerard Pique, John O'Shea and Wes Brown. So we're very well covered in that position. If we can't cope, there's something wrong."