Former Manchester United midfielder David McCreery has tipped perennial substitute Jonny Evans to nail down a spot in the heart of the first-team squad, and expects him to flourish when Nemanja Vidic leaves.
Despite the general consensus being that David Moyes would look to bring in an expensive new centre-back in order to bolster his weak back line, McCreery told United’s official website that he believed his compatriot would thrive if given the chance to take command of the defence. Evans has largely struggled to make a real impression in recent seasons, and has often been used as a reserve for the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Vidic when either has been unavailable for selection.
However McCreery believes that the coming matches present the Northern Ireland international with the perfect platform upon which to stake a claim for a regular first-team berth next term.
“Jonny will definitely be in that defence for a long time, and especially for Northern Ireland as well, it's just that he has had a few injuries," McCreery said.
"Unfortunately, if you look at it, these have come at an important time as well. Saying that, Jonny has had experience and is not a young lad anymore.
"He's gained that experience by playing at a young age at United and experienced winning things too. I think United could do with him coming back as quickly as possible.
"With Nemanja Vidic leaving, the club needs a good balanced partnership to start next season. Jonny can be part of that and he's got leadership qualities. He's the type of lad who you think is quiet off the pitch but, once he gets on the field, he changes. And he's a lovely lad."
At 26 Evans is unlikely to ever be presented with a better opportunity to force his way into Moyes’ plans, and will be hoping that the advancing age of Ferdinand, coupled with the imminent departure of Vidic, will allow him to forge a new partnership with whomever it is United bring in.
Of course the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are also vying for a place, and so he will face a battle for the spot.