Manchester United skipper Patrice Evra is being backed to overcome the verbal abuse he could face at Liverpool on Saturday.
Former United defender Viv Anderson sees no reason why manager Sir Alex Ferguson will not pitch Evra into what is expected to be a highly charged atmosphere at Anfield for the FA Cup fourth-round tie on Saturday.
Sensitivities remain high in the wake of the race row that surrounded the last game on Merseyside in October, when Evra accused striker Luis Suarez of racist abuse.
It resulted in Suarez being found guilty and handed an eight-match ban by an FA commission, which means the Uruguayan will be absent when the two teams meet again on Merseyside this weekend.
As for Evra, Ferguson has already indicated he will play, with Anderson convinced the France left-back is strong enough to ride out the anticipated storm.
Anderson, England's first black international, said: "Patrice should definitely play, 100%.
"There will be a backlash, but he did nothing wrong, so why should he not play?
"He is experienced enough and old enough to deal with it. It won't be the first time he's been verbally attacked. If you cannot deal with it then you are never going to make a career for yourself.
"Patrice is at Manchester United playing in the Premier League and is a French international.
"He has proved he is able to stand up to all the outside pressures that have been heaped on him as he's built his career.
"It is not right you have to put up with racial abuse, but I am sure it has happened to him in the past.
"I don't think playing at Anfield after what has gone on will bother him.
"There will always be something else around the corner, and if you keep worrying about something then you will fold and disappear."
Another former United star, Paddy Crerand, believes the Liverpool fans "face a very thin dividing line" if they too abuse Evra, as Suarez was found to have done.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Crerand said: "If Liverpool fans verbally attack Pat on Saturday, does that make them racists?
"Suarez was found guilty of using racist remarks, so would that make them the same if they, in turn, had a go at Patrice?
"They won't be happy and will probably have a go at Pat, even though he was the innocent party and he had every right to bring the issue to the public.
"But Suarez is an important player for them, so they will be looking to have a go at someone for losing him for eight matches."
Crerand is naturally hoping the Liverpool fans behave themselves, adding: "The Anfield support has been famous for being such a knowledgeable set of fans.
"I think they are a great club, but on Saturday they are going to face a very strange situation. I hope their fans don't tarnish that image."
Like Anderson, Crerand feels Evra will not let anything affect him, adding: "Sadly, he will also have had to put up with a lot of racial abuse in the past, no doubt.
"But he is a strong character. Mentally, he will be able to cope with it.
"It is not nice, but I don't think for one minute it will put him off his stride.
"Patrice will have heard it all before, unfortunately, from other morons."
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