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Jonny Evans’ return boosts United’s defensive options

by Sam Peoples

Manchester United have been given a boost ahead of Sunday’s fixture against Southampton with the return of Jonny Evans to fitness.

The Northern Irish international played a full 90 minutes tonight in the U21s fixture against Tottenham Hotspur and as he didn’t have a pre-season due to ankle surgery, it was exactly what he needed.

He looked assured in his touches and comfortable playing again, putting in some great blocks and he was very decisive in the tackle. Thankfully, it seems that he has recovered from the ankle surgery that has kept him out of the first two fixtures this season.

“Hopefully I will be in contention for Sunday.” Jonny Evans

The timing of Jonny Evans’ return to fitness couldn’t be better. United are in desperate need of first team centre backs with Jones, Smalling and Ferdinand all still sidelined. Michael Carrick and Nemanja Vidic have struggled in the centre of defence and United have been exposed because of it. Three goals conceded in only two games is a fair reflection of that.

Last season, Jonny Evans was one of United’s outstanding performers of the season. Alongside Rio Ferdinand, he matured fantastically as a player and become indispensable, especially in the long term absence of Nemanja Vidic.

My first choice defensive pairing before the season started would have been Vidic and Evans and, depending on his recovery from the Tottenham game tonight, we may well see that partnership line up on Sunday.

As well as strengthening the defence, Evans’ return to fitness means that Michael Carrick should be able to return to his favoured midfield position. Carrick and Cleverley have never had an extended opportunity to play alongside each other on the pitch due to injuries but I think they are our best midfield pairing.

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