Nemanja Vidic believes Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans can fill the void left by him and Rio Ferdinand in Manchester United’s defence.
Ferdinand announced on Monday that he would be leaving Old Trafford this summer, while centre-back partner Vidic has already agreed a deal to join Inter Milan.
Jones and Smalling have both been included in England’s World Cup squad and Vidic is confident that the pair and Northern Irishman Evans will be key players at United for many years.
Vidic said: "I think it's up to the new manager to decide but what I have to say is I have been training and playing with these guys and they definitely have all the ability they need to become top players.
"I think Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, first of all, are people who are attracting a lot of interest here because they are national-team players and the future of English football, not just Manchester United.
"They definitely have the physical strength, pace and technique to play for this club and I think now is the time for them to step up next year and to maybe form the new partnership with Jonny Evans.
"I believe those three have to be the players who are carrying on and becoming the United defenders for the next seven or eight years. I think they have that capability and the experience to step up."