Manchester United management have concerns over the form of Jonny Evans.
The Guardian says Evans faces another spell out of the team as the club's coaching staff ponder how to rebuild his confidence. The Northern Ireland international has endured a difficult start to the season, having already been demoted from the squad following a series of sub-standard performances in August and September, and has openly admitted he has not been playing well.
Since returning to the team he was blamed for Blackburn's consolation goal, as a second-half substitute in the 7-1 win for United at Old Trafford on Saturday, and the Carling Cup defeat at West Ham United represented the lowest point by some considerable distance, with Evans badly at fault for two of the goals before being replaced by Wes Brown. Ferguson spoke afterwards of "soft defending" and it has become a particular concern to United's management how frequently the centre-half is losing battles with physical opponents.
There is, nonetheless, a firm belief behind the scenes that Evans, 23 next month, will recover from the first prolonged loss of form in his career. The problem would be more serious for United were it not for Rio Ferdinand's improved fitness but, for the time being, Evans is likely to drop into the reserves, with Brown or Chris Smalling the alternative back-up options for Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at Blackpool on Saturday.