Neville fit and raring to go against Portugal

"What I do know is that his experience over many years might be very important in a game like this against Portugal. He has played in many big matches for club and country," Eriksson said this week.

"He is important to the balance of the side, absolutely, and it should be very good to have him back. I don’t think there is any risk in playing him as things stand."

Had Neville been forced out it would have been a second successive World Cup finals heartbreak, having missed the entire one in 2002 because of injury.

He said that sitting on the bench injured – while watching Jamie Carragher and Owen Hargreaves deputise for him – was the hardest thing a player can go through, and is ready to again renew his fruitful partnership down the right flank with close friend and former United team-mate David Beckham.

"The frustration of sitting on the bench is there for every player, it’s the most frustrating thing that can happen," he said.

"I’ve missed the last three matches and I’ve not enjoyed that. I hope I can be involved on Saturday and to feel part of it because you don’t really feel part of it when you are injured."