United v Stoke City: Preview
Jonny Evans is hoping to keep Rio Ferdinand on the sidelines when Manchester United take on Stoke City in the final game of the season. With Ferdinand recovered from the groin injury that kept him out for a month and in need of some match practice ahead of his expected call up to England's World Cup squad, Sir Alex Ferguson is set to name his first choice defensive pairing for only the 15th time this season. But the Ferdinand/Nemanja Vidic pairing is not the shoe-in it once was at Old Trafford - a measure of the giant strides Evans has made in the last two years. At 22, the Northern Ireland star has already established himself as a key man in United's future development. And when Ferguson pins up his team sheet tomorrow, Evans admits he will be upset if he is not called upon. It is a boost when I get picked but it has probably got to the stage where I would feel disappointed if the manager said he was playing both of them ahead of me, said Evans. The manager can get away with rotating other positions but he does like a settled centre-back pairing and a settled goalkeeper. He believes that transmits through the team. So I am sure there will come a day, maybe tomorrow, when I will be disappointed to be left out.It would almost certainly not be the only setback Evans has to cope with either. United might still be in with a chance of landing a record fourth consecutive title but the odds are overwhelmingly against them. On a normal day, a home victory over Stoke would be regarded as fairly routine. That is the easiest part of the equation though as United are also reliant on Wigan avoiding defeat at Chelsea, a feat only two sides have achieved this season. Evans is realistic enough to accept the situation, although until they hear otherwise, the Belfast-born star is confident his team-mates will be fully motivated, just in case the Latics can cause a sensation. We cannot afford to have any regrets, he said. If something did happen and we failed to take advantage, it would be one of the biggest regrets of your life. We have to try and win the game and I am sure the manager will tell us to express ourselves and put on a good performance." United league form: LDWWW Stoke City league form: DLLDW Key opponent: Matthew Etherington - has been in rich vein of form lately Prediction: United 3 Stoke 0 - Reds to do their bit and hope Wigan can pull off something special Agree with the prediction? Have your say.
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