Sir Alex Ferguson has paid a glowing tribute to Jonny Evans by saying “one day he will be a regular Manchester United centre-half”.
The Northern Ireland international impressed the Old Trafford supremo with assured performances in the heart of defence in the Champions League battle against Villarreal and Premier League showdown with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Evans was left out of the United squad for last night’s 3-1 Carling Cup victory over Middlesbrough but the 20-year-old has already proved he can wrestle with some of the best strikers in the world and pass the test with flying colours.
Ferguson is now thrilled with his promising starlet from Glengormley who has impressed for both club and country since his loan spell at Sunderland.
“I take several positives from our form, including the performance of Jonny Evans,” wrote Ferguson in last night’s match programme.
“Jonny showed why one day he will be a regular Manchester United centre-half. A number of clubs have bid substantial amounts for him, but we have turned them all down because his future is with us.
“We have the strong partnership of (Rio) Ferdinand and (Nemanja) Vidic, of course, but he will get sufficient games to keep him in the first team scene and he will realise that he is at the right club, just as (Cristiano) Ronaldo came to accept that at this stage of his career, United is the place for him.”
Evans made his United debut in last season’s Carling Cup third round clash against Coventry City but, in Ferguson’s eyes, he has clearly earned the right to step onto a bigger stage.
Londonderry man Darron Gibson, who chose to compete for the Republic of Ireland rather than Northern Ireland, was a second half substitute last night for United.
Elsewhere in the Carling Cup, Northern Ireland midfielder
Michael O’Connor scored an equaliser at Anfield but Liverpool eventually killed off Crewe 2-1.
However, there was more disappointment for Sunderland striker David Healy who was substituted at half-time as Roy Keane’s side needed a penalty shoot-out to conquer Northampton Town at the Stadium of Light after a 2-2 draw.