French left-back Evra has been a defensive rock during his six years at Old Trafford but Fergie yesterday warned new £4million signing Alexander Buttner is after his place.
The United boss said: "We have to protect the future. That is sensible. Evra is 31 and Alex comes to challenge that position.
"But nobody has played more games than Evra over the last five years. He has played with injuries - he has guts.
"He has been up and down that touchline for five years. It's 240 games he has played. Patrice has been an absolute soldier."