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Evans must be Van Gaal's boss at the back... or else!

By Steven Beacom

Jonny Evans is back in action for Manchester United. Now comes crunch time for the Northern Ireland defender.

Having finally recovered from a broken foot sustained in September, Evans made his return on Tuesday night for the reserves in a comfortable 5-0 victory over Blackburn Rovers.

He cruised through the game. Could have played it in slippers.

That was the Lancashire Senior Cup. The Premier League, as Evans knows, is a different animal.

It may lack the class of La Liga or the quality at the top end of the Bundesliga, but no matter the opposition, the Premier League always provides intensity.

Whether Evans will be ready for that on Saturday remains to be seen, but Louis van Gaal is seriously thinking about throwing the defender into his starting line-up to add experience for the visit of Hull City with fellow Ulsterman Paddy McNair possibly dropping out.

That would be hard on McNair, who defended manfully in the second half during United's 2-1 weekend victory at Arsenal, but as the Ballyclare teenager will learn big time football can be a cruel mistress.

For Evans, his comeback offers an opportunity to show who is boss at the back at Old Trafford under the Dutchman. With Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra long gone, Evans must step up and assume the mantle of United's senior defender, becoming the foundation on which any future success for the club can be based.

He has a head start with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo sidelined.

Failure to emerge as the main man will mean trouble for Jonny, because Van Gaal won't hang around in his bid to make United great again.

In January he'll enter the transfer market to buy big name defenders. Evans has to ensure his form from now until then dictates he should play alongside them rather than be replaced by the new recruits.

He is now entering the most important period of his United career.

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