Jonny Evans has emerged as Manchester United’s regular centre-back as they have kept three consecutive clean sheets but said he is still not sure if manager David Moyes is building his new-look defence around him.
The Northern Ireland international has started the Premier League champions’ last four games with as many different central defensive partnerships, with Nemanja Vidic facing Newcastle, Rio Ferdinand taking on Shakhtar Donetsk, Phil Jones accompanying Evans against Aston Villa and Chris Smalling playing in Wednesday’s Capital One Cup victory over Stoke.
And Moyes this week warned captain Vidic, who has been a fixture in the team for most of his seven years at Old Trafford, that he is not guaranteed a place any more.
But Evans does not believe he has been installed as the new automatic choice, saying: "I haven’t been given that feeling by the manager. It’s only four games in a row I’ve played now and there have been some injuries. It’s been the same scenario over the past couple of seasons. I’ve had a run of games then got injured.
"You can’t look too far ahead. You have just got to keep playing as well as you can play, hopefully every remains injury-free, and then you give the manager a selection dilemma."
United have not conceded a goal since Yohan Cabaye’s winner for Newcastle and have recorded three victories in as many games in all competitions.
And Evans added: "It’s always a bonus when you win and get a clean sheet. The manager wants us to defend well and he sets us out really well, every game we are working out how to play against the opposition so we’re pleased to get a run of clean sheets."
United avoided Manchester City in the semifinal draw of the Capital One Cup and instead face Evans’ former club Sunderland.
Although the Black Cats prop up the Premier League, Evans is anticipating a tough tie.
He said: "I watched Sunderland beat Chelsea the other night and not only are they fighting for Gus Poyet but he has also got them playing some good football. They controlled large parts of the game against Chelsea. They had some good possession. So it will be a more difficult game than people will imagine.
"I had two loans spells there and I loved my time at Sunderland. In my first season there we won the Championship with Roy Keane as manager and then the next season I went back there and we managed to stay in the Premier League which was a good achievement at the time.
"It gave me a good platform to return to United and fight for a first-team spot. I was very fortunate with my loan moves. I went to Royal Antwerp which was a good experience and then two spells at Sunderland and each of my loan spells were about progression in terms of the quality of the opposition. And it has definitely benefitted me."