Rio Ferdinand marked his return to the Premiership with a composed performance as Manchester United took all three points against Liverpool at Old Trafford.

Despite an eight-month lay imposed for missing a routine drugs test the England centre-half slotted straight back into the United defence much to the delight of manager Alex Ferguson.

“I thought Rio was absolutely superb and I don’t expect there will be many people disagreeing with that,” said Ferguson.

“He has been out for eight months, yet he comes into a game against Liverpool and plays like that. He brings balance, composure and surety to our defence. He is just a fantastic player.

“I didn’t think it was a risk to put him straight in the side because I have seen him train every day, which is a good measure of how he will go.”

Ferdinand’s return is a huge psychological boost to United who played their best football of the season as they ran out 2-1 winners over Liverpool.

“Its just nice to get back out there.” Said Ferdinand.

“After you get back on the pitch everything is about football. It was never going to be easy I knew that. Physically and mental it was all new again.”

Ferdinand’s return to the England set-up is assured with the squad for the next round of World Cup qualifiers to be announced on the third of October.