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The QPR manager believes that the former West Ham defender, whom he managed when he was at Upton Park, is still one of the quickest around, despite Sir Alex suggesting otherwise

Harry Redknapp has defended his former player Rio Ferdinand, believing that the Manchester United defender is still one of the quickest centre-backs in the Premier League.

Ferdinand has been on the receiving end of criticism this season following some below-par displays that prompted questions about his ability to continue performing at the level required of a team challenging for the title.

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However, with Manchester United plagued by injuries, Ferdinand kept his position in the starting XI and has since helped Sir Alex Ferguson's side propel themselves 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Redknapp, who worked with the former England international when he was manager at West Ham, still believes the defender is of the highest quality.

“Rio losing a yard probably still makes him as quick as any centre-half in the country,” the QPR manager told reporters.

“He was lightning quick, so if Alex thinks he’s lost a yard that’ll just bring him closer to the next-quickest centre-half – he’s that quick.

“I just think he’s a fantastic player. He’s been a top player since he was 17 and he’s been a great player for United. He’s still top quality.”

QPR host Manchester United on Saturday afternoon in a 15:00 kick-off at Loftus Road.

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