MUMBAI (Reuters) -- Paul Scholes should play on beyond this season after a shock return from retirement that has saved Manchester United a fortune in the January transfer window, according to former captain Gary Neville.

Scholes, the 37-year-old former England midfielder who retired at the end of last season, made a winning return for the club in the FA Cup third round match against Manchester City on Sunday amid rapturous applause.

United have said Scholes has made himself available until the end of the season.

"He missed football and he wanted to carry on," former England defender Neville, who is now a television pundit, told reporters on a visit to Mumbai to promote the Manchester United Cafe Bar.

"According to me Scholes should still be playing football and playing for a good two years.

"I think it's a great boost for Manchester United that he comes back and plays at this time when the team has suffered so badly with injuries. We have seen so many players playing out of position in the midfield."

United, who suffered an early exit from the Champions League this year, have been hit by a succession of injury problems, with central midfielders Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher and Anderson sitting out a large number of matches.

Neville, dressed in a red United T-shirt and blue jeans, said Scholes was an individual case, however.

"He wanted to come back and play football irrespective of the problems that Manchester United have had," he said.

Not a big fan of the January transfer window, Neville said Scholes' return would allow manager Alex Ferguson to refrain from paying inflated prices to plug the midfield gap.

"People get fascinated with the January window but it's never been a success for Manchester United or any other club," he argued. "Chelsea last year signed David Luiz and Fernando Torres for �75 million.

"You play inflated prices. When a player signs at the start of the season in June, he has three months to get used to. He signs in January and he has February, March and April to settle and the season ends in May. So you don't get any benefits.

"I don't see the benefits of signing a player in January. So Scholes coming back in and hitting the ground running is beneficial for the club."


Neville, who spent his entire career at United and captained the side for five years, said the next six weeks are going to decide United's future in the Premier League.

"I think we will see what happens in the next few weeks. It's a huge few weeks for Manchester United," Neville said, with his eyes trained firmly on the television screen which showed the recording of United's win last Sunday over City.

"They play Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur all in the next six weeks. If they can stay in touch with Manchester City at the start of March, I think they will be ok.

"It's still very, very early in the season. There's a lot to play for yet."

A huge fan of Ferguson, Neville said United's recipe for success has been the right blend of youth and experience.

"He (Ferguson) always believes in young people and gives them the opportunities," he said. "With Sir Alex Ferguson he changes the team every two years.

"He moves the team along by introducing new players. He never lets the team grow old together."

Ferguson, who recently celebrated his 70th birthday, has been United's manager for 25 years but Neville does not see him retiring anytime soon.

"I don't see him finishing... He's not changed his mentality in the last five-10 years. He's the same man," Neville said.

"And he's building a new young team. So with the challenge that Manchester City is giving I don't see him retiring."

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.