Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson admits he didn't believe skipper Gary Neville would make a successful return.

"When you consider the way Gary has been plagued by injuries for 18 months, he has done brilliantly to come back so convincingly," Ferguson told Manchester United's official website.

"At one point I thought he would not make it back into the Premier League. But he has and all credit to him."

Ferguson also feels the strength of character Neville showed during his recovery from injury has set a great example for all players.

"He persevered and never lost faith, despite the succession of niggles and strains that followed his ankle injury," said the United boss.

"He is a role model for any player feeling down on his luck."