Jonny Evans would not have started this season believing he would be a regular in the centre of the Manchester United defence, but injuries to both Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have allowed him to rise to prominence.

Last season, the Northern Irishman endured a torrid campaign, and his form reached its nadir during a 4-0 defeat to West Ham at Upton Park in the Carling Cup.

Such was his form, Evans said last summer that he would not last much longer at Old Trafford if he continued to perform in similar fashion during the new campaign.

But the 24-year-old has thrived in the absence of Vidic, and often without Ferdinand by his side too, and is certainly a candidate to emerge triumphant from United's post-season awards.

When Vidic was ruled out for the entire campaign following injury against Basel in the Champions League, Evans soon realised he would have to rise to the challenge and fill in for his stricken captain.

And the centre-back hopes he has managed to do just that, as United close in on an historic 20th league title.

"Maybe I was too honest and shouldn't have said that!" Evans told manutd.com when reminded of his self-deprecation last summer. "But that was an honest opinion of myself, I guess.

"Every player goes through that. It was up to me to find a way to get through it. It was a challenge for me and everybody needs to be challenged. You either rise to it or you don't, and if you don't then you don't deserve to be at a club like Manchester United.

"Those are the sorts of challenges everybody here faces - when that happens it's up to you to try and raise your game and get back into the team."

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