United ace ready to lead France

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Patrice Evra will lead France out for their World Cup opener against Uruguay today highlighting his tough start to life in England as crucial to his development.

The Manchester United left-back was awarded the armband with previous incumbent Thierry Henry likely to start on the bench during the tournament.

While the move displeased the more experienced William Gallas - who has now refused to talk to the media in protest - Evra is rightly proud of his promotion.

"I feel pride and honour and a huge responsibility but I have my team-mates behind me," he said. "We are very proud as a team and confident. We have a great deal of responsibility on our shoulders."

The full-back struggled at United in the second half of the 2005/06 season having arrived from Monaco in the January transfer window. However, since then he has blossomed into perhaps the finest left-back in the world and that progression has culminated in him captaining his country.

Evra added: "It's difficult to talk about oneself. I've put in some hard work to get to this point - I haven't had any gifts given to me. I am determined.

"My first six months in Manchester were difficult but I believed in myself and my abilities and I think that is what makes a difference. I think my psychology helped me build and develop my career."

Uruguay boss Oscar Tabarez, meanwhile, has already named his XI with former United man Diego Forlan fit after a slight leg injury. Tabarez has rubbished his country's reputation as hatchet men after more questions about their indiscipline.

The recent South American qualification campaign saw them amass 48 bookings and four red cards in 18 games. Indeed, attacking midfielder Cristian Rodriguez was omitted from Tabarez's squad as he is suspended for two matches following a dismissal in the final qualifier against Argentina.

Tabarez insists it is unfair to stereotype his team, however. "I think almost all of the squads (in qualifying) had a number of red and yellow cards. Some, in fact, have far more than we did," he said.

"We shouldn't link that to mistakes Uruguay made (in the past) when playing football."

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Manchester United
Patrice Evra
World Cup

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