Belfast Telegraph

David Moyes has to give Manchester United defender Jonny Evans time to shine

By Steven Beacom

It's comeback night at Old Trafford. Of course, there's the much anticipated return of Liverpool's Luis Suarez. Manchester United boss David Moyes will desperately want his side to come back from that humiliating 4-1 defeat to derby rivals Manchester City, and then there's the case of Northern Ireland star Jonny Evans.

He hasn't played all season for United, and therefore has yet to feature in a meaningful game for Moyes.

Surely the Northern Ireland defender will be given his opportunity in this evening's Capital One Cup third round tie between United and Liverpool.

And he'll be fiercely determined to put in a high class performance that could see him come back into the reckoning for United's Premier and Champions League encounters in the weeks and months ahead.

Sir Alex Ferguson trusted Evans and had no fear throwing him into major matches.

Last season in the Bernabeu was a case in point. All of Ferguson's high profile defenders were fit and Evans was the first name pencilled in at the back.

The 25-year-old did not disappoint, having a superb game against Real Madrid in the 1-1 Champions League draw.

So far, Moyes has not shown the same faith as his predecessor with the experienced Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic continually chosen at the heart of the back four.

Before this season there was a feeling that Ferdinand and Vidic, with a combined age of 65 and a history of injuries, struggled to play two games in a week, but Moyes recently paired them up for a third time in eight days! It told against City, whose forward line, led by the brilliant Sergio Aguero, embarrassed United's experienced duo.

It's one thing being outplayed, but to see Vidic and Ferdinand being out thought and outfought was hugely concerning for United fans.

Ferguson was never afraid to drop or rest them and Moyes must now do the same.

I have heard it suggested in Manchester that Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are ahead of Evans in the central defensive queue, but Moyes is a shrewder judge than that.

Right now, with Vidic and Ferdinand creaking, Evans should be his go to man.

The big League Cup encounter with Liverpool won't faze the Northern Ireland player. Instead, he is likely to be inspired by the thought of taking on the old enemy and facing in-form Daniel Sturridge and Suarez. Evans will also be keen to get the sour taste of Luxembourg out of his mouth.

That was Jonny's last game – the embarrassing 3-2 defeat to the part-timers in a World Cup qualifier. It was a shameful display from Northern Ireland but at least, unlike the vast majority of Michael O'Neill's side, Evans didn't go missing in action and prevented the scoreline from being even worse.

At the start of the season, Evans was hampered by illness and an ankle injury. He's fully fit and ready now.

Brendan Rodgers tells us that Luis Suarez is chomping at the bit to play tonight. Jonny Evans will feel the same way.

This should be his chance to lay down a marker and outline to Moyes what he has been missing at the back. Evans needs to be composed and cool. Negating the influence of Suarez would also go down well with his boss and the United faithful.

Belfast Telegraph


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