Sir Alex Ferguson believes Patrice Evra is ready for the climax of the Premier League title race after being given a two-week break following his confrontation with Liverpool's Luis Suarez.
Evra, 30, is set to captain Manchester United against Norwich at Carrow Road this afternoon, 15 days after United's explosive 2-1 victory at Old Trafford.
Suarez, who recently returned from an eight-match ban for racially abusing the United skipper in October, refused to shake Evra's hand, while Ferguson was critical of Evra's pointed celebrations afterwards.
Evra stayed in Manchester when United played their Europa League first leg in Ajax last week and was left on the bench for the return game at Old Trafford on Thursday but will now be tasked with leading United's pursuit of City from the front.
"The intention was always to give Patrice a clean break away from it all after the Suarez thing," Ferguson said.
"He needed that rest factor because don't forget also he's been playing non-stop for four years, but he's nice and fresh now and he's had his break.
"It was a difficult time mentally for him with everything that's been going on and after the Liverpool game was over that was the right time to give him the break mentally. What we also needed to do was give him a break physically so he's nice and fresh for the run in."
Utility man Phil Jones feels that United's old heads will be the difference as they look to overcome their rivals City before May.
He said: "It's experience. Myself, I'm new to this, but the likes of Rio [Ferdinand], Scholesy [Paul Scholes], Giggsy [Ryan Giggs], all the players who have been there and done it before, I think that will push us over the edge.
"Earlier in the season we were dropping points where we knew we should have been picking them up. We know it's a long season and we're all excited about the run-in."
Norwich City v Manchester United kicks off today at 1.30pmReuse content