Jonny Evans proved in last night's Capital One Cup shut-out against Liverpool that he is worthy of a regular place in the Manchester United starting line-up.
The 1-0 victory at Old Trafford was the perfect response to Sunday's humbling 4-1 defeat against local rivals Manchester City, and David Moyes will be delighted with the way his players bounced back, and set about the task of dismantling their opponents, to book their place in the fourth round.
It was a far from entertaining encounter, with flashes of brilliance and goalscoring chances few and far between. But, what the game did show, is that Manchester United still boast that steely resilience, and never-say-die attitude, that former manager Sir Alex Ferguson successfully built so many title winning campaigns upon, in years gone by.
A moment of magic from Javier Hernandez in the Liverpool box, seconds after the restart after expertly converting a Wayne Rooney corner, proved to be the difference between the two teams, with defence coming out on top, particularly during the first-half of an entirely resolute display from the hosts.
Evans and central defensive partner Chris Smalling nullified the majority of attacking threat posed by the visitors, with Daniel Sturridge and the returning Luis Suarez both enduring frustrating evenings at the home of the Premier League champions.
The Northern Irishman was especially efficient in what was his first competitive appearance in 2013/14, having been omitted from the first-team squad entirely for Manchester United's Community Shield victory over Wigan Athletic at Wembley, as well as the opening three Premier League fixtures against Swansea City, Chelsea and Liverpool.
The 25-year-old returned to the bench for the 2-0 win against Crystal Palace, but didn't get on, and was also an unused substitute in the comfortable Champions League victory over Bayer Leverkusen, as well as the weekend loss at City. So, when his opportunity to impress Moyes finally came on Wednesday night, Evans grabbed the chance with both hands.
After demonstrating his ability as a more than able deputy for club captain Nemanja Vidic - who spent the majority of the 2012/13 campaign sidelined by injury - it's somewhat surprising that Evans seemingly has to prove himself all over again under Moyes, following the retirement of Ferguson during the summer.
With the Serbian stopper back fit, and attempting to re-establishing a rock-solid partnership alongside Rio Ferdinand at the heart of the Manchester United defence, the centre-back now faces his biggest challenge yet to cement his place in the starting XI.
And, with further competition from Phil Jones and Smalling, Evans must not take his foot off the gas, and make the most of every occasion that he is called upon.
His aerial dominance and composure on the ground might not yet match Messrs Vidic and Ferdinand, but Evans is equally decisive in the tackle, and boasts an extra yard of pace that the veteran duo now lack, as they both enter the latter stages of their respective careers.
The dwindling mobility of Manchester United's defence is something that will be exposed against the fiercest of forward lines, like the one the champions struggled to contain at the Etihad Stadium last weekend.
Bringing Evans back into the starting line-up is something Moyes has to consider, if he is serious about a successful debut season at Old Trafford. He possesses all the qualities needed to slot seamlessly alongside either Vidic or Ferdinand, and with his speed and agility, will add another dimension to the middle of the Manchester United defence that is currently in short supply.
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