Jonny Evans admits a long Carling Cup run is essential for Manchester United's young players.
While the Carling Cup would normally be ranked bottom of United's lengthy list of priorities, for certain members of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad, it offers a priceless opportunity for first-team exposure.
Evans - tipped as the Red Devils' natural successor to Rio Ferdinand - is one such player, as are Brazilian duo Rafael Da Silva and Rodrigo Possebon, while England Under-19 forward Daniel Welbeck earned the penalty that gave Carlos Tevez the chance to steer United into the last eight against QPR on Tuesday night.
"The incentive is there for this team because the manager says he will stand by us," said the Belfast-born youngster.
"You just have to do well to keep your place.
"It is really tough just getting into the squad here.
"There are some outstanding players to come back in, although it is always going to be tough at Manchester United.
"You just have to keep grafting away, hopefully get more games and believe eventually your time will come."
It is Evans' bad luck the long-term injuries United have suffered, to Paul Scholes and Owen Hargreaves in particular, are in central midfield.
The 20-year-old has already proved himself to be an able deputy for Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, turning in a sparkling performance at Chelsea in September. But he is realistic enough to know that, at present, he is very much a second choice.
After a couple of seasons playing regularly on loan at Sunderland, Evans does find it frustrating to spend so much time watching.
But he is aware United offer an opportunity that should not be passed up lightly.
"I have only played four games, so I am not getting carried away," he said. "It would be nice to play a few more matches but I do feel comfortable and I am enjoying it.
"You work hard on the training ground to ensure you take these kind of chances. Playing for a club like Manchester United is what we all dreamed about as a kid growing up.
"You owe it to yourself and your family to give everything. Whether it is good enough or not, at least you have tried."