Last updated : 14 December 2006 By Ed

Gary Neville has praised Nemanja Vidic's performances this season.

"Nemanja has been nothing short of fantastic over the last two or three months," said the31-year-old.

"He has been an outstanding performer, a good old-fashioned defender who loves to head the ball and loves to tackle.

"He is infectious in the way he makes everybody around him want to defend in the same manner.

"It is great to have defenders like that who never take a backward step."

However Neville concedes his place as captain as being less important than Rio's.

"Rio is very important to our back four and, for me, still the one single most important member," he said.

"He offers that calmness and experience and positional sense. Nothing fazes him.

"He has an excellent partnership with Nemanja and we are blessed to have them because they complement each other so well.

"Last season, the manager said he wanted to create a solid foundation at the back. We are seeing more of that and we look like we are enjoying defending again."