Rio Ferdinand has urged Jonny Evans to be patient in his battle for a first-team berth at Manchester United - even though he knows exactly what the Northern Ireland international is going through.
Sir Alex Ferguson rebuffed Sunderland's approach to buy Evans this summer and has already assured the defender he is a big part of United's long-term future, but the 20-year-old will be making only his fourth start of the season when he faces QPR in the Carling Cup at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.
And, from his own experience at a similar age when he was at West Ham, Ferdinand knows Evans will be desperate for more, saying: "Jonny needs to be patient. The problem is he will also want to play as many games as possible. I was the same when I was a kid."
He added: "I was behind the likes of Slaven Bilic, Alvin Martin and Marc Rieper.
"But I didn't look at how good they were, I just wanted to play. I wanted the manager to at least give me a game here and there. Jonny will be thinking that too."
Ferdinand's advice is for Evans to watch and learn in training to make sure any snippets of information are added to his own game, ensuring the Belfast-born youngster plays to his potential when called upon.
There has been no problem on that score this season, with Evans impressing in Champions League outings against Villarreal and Celtic, plus the Premier League showdown with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Ferdinand has no doubts his fellow centre-half will make the grade at Old Trafford.
"Jonny has been called upon a few times already in big games this season and done brilliantly," said the England star. "He is a great player. It is crazy to think he is so young. Roy Keane tried to buy him in the summer, which tells you a lot.
"He is good with both feet. He is playing regularly for Northern Ireland and will maybe become their captain in the near future. It explains why the manager made him realise he needs to stay here. He will have a major part to play at this club in the coming years."
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