Evans promises United revival against Villa

Updated: 02 December 2011 09:17 IST

Jonny Evans is sure Manchester United can bounce back from their midweek League Cup embarrassment to keep their Premier League push on track at Aston Villa.

Evans promises United revival against Villa
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Manchester:

Jonny Evans is sure Manchester United can bounce back from their midweek League Cup embarrassment to keep their Premier League push on track at Aston Villa.

Sir Alex Ferguson was furious with the performance of his second string during Wednesday's 2-1 home defeat by second-tier Crystal Palace.

The veteran manager said it was "not a Manchester United" performance as he saw his side bow out of the competition at the quarter-final stage.

Ferguson knows United cannot afford to slip up at Villa, with Manchester City facing Norwich earlier in the day.

Premier League leaders City could be eight points in front of their local rivals by the time reigning champions United kick-off at Villa Park.

After a free-scoring start to the campaign, United have struggled in recent weeks, following their 6-1 defeat by Manchester City in October.

Other than a 3-0 League Cup victory at Aldershot, they have only managed more than one goal in two of their last seven games and have not won in their last three.

At least they enjoy a strong record at Villa Park, where they have not lost since a 3-0 defeat on the opening day of the season in 1995.

But Northern Ireland international defender Evans, who captained the side against Crystal Palace, admits United will have to make a significant improvement to find a way past Alex McLeish's Villa.

Ferguson has insisted that as long as United are still in touch with City at the turn of the year he will be satisfied.

And despite the shock loss to Palace, Evans feels United's fringe players still have a significant role to play in the weeks ahead.

"The games are coming thick and fast and the manager will need his squad," said Evans. "So we need to pick ourselves up and hopefully win on Saturday.

"Before the Palace game I was delighted to be given the armband, but I'd happily take that away to have the victory instead.

The lads have got to keep focused and work hard on their games."

Another downside of the defeat by Palace was that Dimitar Berbatov was forced off at half time with an ankle problem that is likely to make him doubtful for the game at Villa Park.

The Da Silva twins, Rafael and Fabio, also had to be replaced and are also unlikely to feature at the weekend.

Ferguson's midfield is already stretched, with Tom Cleverley and Anderson ruled out with ankle and knee injuries respectively.

He is also struggling for attacking options, with Danny Welbeck still out with a muscle problem and Michael Owen absent for a month with a thigh strain.

Villa defender Stephen Warnock insists Ashley Young should be handed a warm reception when he returns to the Birmingham club for the first time since his £16 million pre-season move to Old Trafford.

"I think Ashley will go down as a modern day great for Villa," Warnock said. "I wouldn't expect anything less than a good reception for Ashley from our fans.

"He was a great servant to the club but it's not often the Premier League champions and Champions League runners-up want to sign you.

"We're a club who want to progress but Manchester United are at the top and Ashley has aspirations to be a top, top player.

"He has the ability to be one of the best in Europe and I don't think fans can begrudge him that."

Villa expect skipper Stiliyan Petrov to recover from a hamstring injury in time to return to contention, while Jermaine Jenas could be handed his first start since arriving on a season-long loan from Tottenham.

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