Gary Neville has been appointed as the new captain of Manchester United, replacing Roy Keane, who left the club “by mutual agreement” last month.

Defender Neville, 30, has started over 450 games for United since his days in the club’s youth scheme. He was the favourite to replace Keane, ahead of Paul Scholes and Ruud Van Nistelrooy who had both worn the captain’s armband in Keane’s absence this season, and Ryan Giggs.

Neville now has the job on a permanent basis following his return to the side after a groin injury. He will make his first Premier League start since August when United host Portsmouth on Saturday evening.

“I’ve had a chat with Ruud but I think it’s the right decision, given the service Gary has given this club,” said manager Alex Ferguson.

“Ryan was a consideration too. But Ryan is not going to play every week. You cannot expect him to run up and down the touchline like he does all the time.

“He will play a lot of games, but we need to keep some freshness in him. That is why I have reached the decision I have.”

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