Patrice Evra is United's defensive Mr Durable this term. And ex-Reds left-back Denis Irwin believes the French number three would be Old Trafford's Player of the Year but for Wayne Rooney
. Evra has managed to avoid the injury curse that has eaten away at United's defensive line-up. He has made 40 appearances for the Reds this term and has only had a breather in the early rounds of the Carling Cup and selected Champions League group matches. His only brief rest since the beginning of December came when he was allowed a break for the FA Cup third-round defeat by Leeds United in January. Nobody, even hotshot Rooney, has started more games than the 29-year-old defender this term. Irwin was Sir Alex Ferguson's Mr Dependable of the 90s and he recognises the full-back's contribution. "For me Patrice Evra has been United's player of the season - along with Wayne Rooney
of course," Irwin told M.E.N. Sport. "Unfortunately for full-backs, the centre forwards get all the glory and headlines because they score the goals. Wayne has been tremendous, particularly in the last three months, but for me Evra has been every bit as good. "He has been very consistent and I mean very, very good consistency. The defence has suffered all sorts of injury problems and that has been a problem, though the stats are still good. "But Patrice has been a mainstay and that bit of stability and form has been vital. You need someone in there to keep experience and some familiarity when others are falling by the wayside. "I do think he is the best in the world now. Ashley Cole at Chelsea has improved a lot. But Patrice has come on too and this season has been his best for United. Ashley is probably his main challenger, but Pat would be number one for me." Old Trafford start Evra's Old Trafford career didn't get off to the best of starts when he moved from Monaco in January 2005. Once he found his feet he was admired for his adventurous attacking qualities, but defensively he wasn't amongst the elite. "He has come on in leaps and bounds. When he arrived I saw a very attacking player. That was impressive," added Irwin. "When you play for United for the vast majority of games you are going to be on the front foot. But you also have to defend. That is your job first and foremost as a full-back and he has improved enormously in that department. "That improvement has seen him become the number one in my eyes." Irwin's Treble-winning colleague Andrew Cole, however, backs Rooney for the individual honours. "The boy can do it all," said Cole. "Wayne has been on fire. He always looks like he is going to score. I enjoy watching him play so much now. He is getting the eight or six-yard tap-in goals now. That's where the improvement has come. "You can get yourself ten goals a season being in that area and being clinical and alive. We all know he can get the wonder goals, but those close in ones are the bread and butter ones. "The two he got against Fulham last Saturday were those kinds of goals. "He is looking the complete package now. He has pace and power. Can head a goal now can hit them with his right or left - what more do you want? "He's the top man." Who should get the award? Have your say.