SAINTS manager Mauricio Pochettino has hailed the professionalism of evergreen Manchester United duo Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand as he prepares to face the former England men again, more than a decade after tackling them on the pitch with Argentina at the 2002 World Cup.

Pochettino was part of the Pumas side beaten 1-0 by England in Japan, where his foul on Michael Owen conceded the penalty from which David Beckham secured a famous victory.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, with 34-year-old Ferdinand no longer part of the international side under Roy Hodgson and Scholes, 38, already having come out of retirement once.

However, speaking ahead of tonight's Barclays Premier League clash at Old Trafford, Pochettino feels both men deserve the utmost respect for continuing to play at the highest level with United.

"I am not surprised by their professionalism and how they have maintained themselves over the years," said the 40-year-old, who will be looking to secure his first win since replacing Nigel Adkins.

"I know they are amazing athletes, they take care of their bodies and their fitness.

"As a manager, I am very happy to see them still playing, it makes me proud to see players can last that long, which is all down to their professionalism."