Rio Ferdinand warns Manchester United youngsters they will have to fight him for his place: I will prove I am hungrier than them

Defender insists the Red Devils' raft of starlets cannot afford to be overawed and has told those competing for his spot in the side that he will not give up easily

Manchester United’s Rio Ferdinand insists he will not relinquish his place in the heart of defence too easily as he looks to fend off competition from the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.

The two youngsters joined up with the rest of the United players following their involvement in the European Under-21 Championship with England, and they look set to feature in Saturday’s match against Chicago Fire.

Ferdinand acknowledges the defensive talent available to manager Sir Alex Ferguson, but the 32-year-old will not stand by and let the youngsters take his place without a fight.

"I remember what I was like when I was young," he told reporters.

"I remember looking up at Slaven Bilic, Marc Rieper, Alvin Martin and Steve Potts at West Ham.

"I was only a kid but I used to sit on the bench and think I should be playing. I am sure these guys think the same thing.

"If they have got anything about them they should.

"They are all talented footballers and, I believe, Manchester United players. At some point I am sure they will take over the reins.

"But I am competitive and I don't want to be giving up my position to anybody. My task is to prove I am hungrier than them."

Ferdinand also warned the youngsters rising through the ranks at Old Trafford that if they are intimidated by the senior stars they might be sold.

"They can't be in awe of me," he added.

"If they are, they will get shipped out. That is the way it is.

"Your desire has to be to play. I understand and respect that. That is why they are here."

Ferdinand insists the pressure to perform still remains, but it is merely part of the job and something that marks Manchester United players out from others.

"Over the years this club has been very successful," he said.

"In the last couple of years we have won trophies as well. It is great to see. But it does bring pressure.

"It is not overwhelming though. It is part of being a Manchester United player. You have to deal with all that stuff.

"It separates you from being a Manchester United player and not."

Injuries were unfortunately a frequent concern for Ferdinand last season, but the centre-back claims that his fitness is coming along nicely and he should be ready for the new campaign.

"My fitness is OK," he said.

"I am nowhere near where I want to be yet but we have three weeks left.

"Last season, I had no problems with my back, which was a good thing, but I did pull my calf which kept me out for a chunk of the year.

"Hopefully this time around I won't have anything like that and I can continue to play a consistent amount of games."