Jonny Evans says staying at Manchester United is his obsession
Jonny Evans has become a football obsessive in order to make sure he does not get left behind in the battle for a first-team spot at Manchester United.
Since the severity of Rio Ferdinand's muscular complaints first began to surface in 2008, Evans has gradually edged further up the Red Devils hierarchy.
By last season, former manager Sir Alex Ferguson said he regarded Evans as a first-choice member of his side, with Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic his partner depending upon the opponent.
Yet, with Phil Jones also earmarked for a central defensive slot and Chris Smalling good enough to play for England in that position, Evans accepts he can take nothing for granted.
Speaking during United's current tour of the Far East and Australia, the Northern Ireland international outlined the work that has to be done to remain in contention at Old Trafford.
"For me, the last couple of years has been about learning how to live right off the pitch," he said.
"My focus has been solely about football. When I wake up in the morning it is the first thing I think about.
"I take time and think about how I am going to improve.
"It becomes an obsession. I get up two hours earlier than I used to. I get into training earlier and go to the gym.
"I understand there is a fine line. As soon as I have finished training I try and relax, but I have a routine which I have worked hard at and which works for me."
Single-mindedness and dedication are traits to be admired in an era where so many players are prepared to settle for something less than their best because the trappings of stardom have already arrived.
"The way I look at it is if I didn't do that stuff I might not still be at Manchester United," he said.
"When I see people working hard and putting the effort in I think 'fair play'.
"Others might think it is being busy or you are doing stupid work but it gives you a mental edge."