Manchester United defender Jonny Evans believes he would not deserve to be at the club if he was not prepared to accept fresh competition for his place in Sir Alex Ferguson's plans.
Two seasons ago, the Northern Ireland international appeared a worthy successor to Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, but the form Evans showed as a regular stand-in deserted him last term. He was overtaken by Chris Smalling and, despite the departures of Wes Brown and John O'Shea to Sunderland, now faces an additional threat following the big-money arrival of Phil Jones from Blackburn.
However, Evans is not fazed by the challenge and the 23-year-old Belfast-born player said: "I have always thought that being at a club like Manchester United, if you can't accept a challenge of someone wanting your spot, you don't deserve to be here. That is what Manchester United is all about. You are constantly being tested."
He added: "It is down to you, whether you are good enough, or whether you are putting the effort in to play for the first team."
Evans was speaking at a Special Olympics event in Boston, organised in partnership with United's foundation and their main sponsors Aon.
It was the first in a series of initiatives during the course of their three-week United States tour aimed at using the Special Olympics to offer sporting activities for local youngsters suffering from learning disabilities.
Evans was an enthusiastic helper of the 31 kids involved, although his thoughts never strayed too far from next season, and the opportunity to wipe out memories of his side's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
"That defeat will stick in the lads' heads," said Evans of the 3-1 reverse, when Barca produced a performance the equal of any from a club side in the history of the game. "These lads have been so successful throughout their careers but they still remember defeats.
"I am sure they will have that at the back of their minds coming into the new season. Barcelona have set the standard. They have gone to another level.
"Maybe 10 years ago, when Manchester United went into Europe, there was a gap to bridge and we managed to do it. The challenge is there for us again. Hopefully we can get closer to them."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.