Jonny Evans has insisted he is ready to regain his place in the Manchester United starting XI following his return to action in the U21s’ 1-1 draw at Leicester City on Monday night.
The Northern Ireland international was banned for six games after spitting on Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse but he is now available for selection again.
Evans believes his teammates are ready for the “challenge” of securing Champions League football next season.
Speaking about his return, Evans said: ”There is always a challenge, even when you’re in the team to keep your place, and you expect that at Manchester United in the first team. It was good for me to get 90 minutes tonight but, obviously, I’ve been able to train with the lads over the last couple of months so I have been keeping involved that way.
“It’s nice to be a part of it – the first team has been excellent in the last couple of months. It’s been a process but it’s been coming for a while. We’ve always believed and he [the manager] has always believed in us. There are five games to go in the season and we’ve got to make sure we carry those standards on.
“We’ve been used to that over the years, having pressure, and, this time, it’s to qualify for the Champions League. Obviously, winning the league has probably gone but there is still pressure at Manchester United. I think the lads have been thriving on that over the last couple of months. I think it’ll be good to end the season with a big challenge for us but it’s one I like to think we’re up to.”
Evans has gone through an indifferent season at United and there have been calls for him to leave the club in the summer.
The 27-year-old has come in for quite a bit of flak over the course of the campaign and the spitting incident intensified calls for his departure. However, both Chris Smalling and Jones have seen dramatic improvements in form under van Gaal and the hope for Evans is that he can do the same. If he doesn’t, his days at Old Trafford will surely be numbered.