Patrice Evra says he has huge respect for the way Dimitar Berbatov has performed whenever he's been given his chance this season, despite only being afforded limited opportunities in the starting XI.
The Bulgarian made only his second league start this term in the 5-0 win over Wigan on Boxing Day, but managed to bag a hat-trick on the back of coming off the bench to net United's fifth in the victory at Fulham five days earlier.
Evra says Berbatov has refused to get downhearted about the situation and has instead put in some hard graft on the training pitch.
"I'm always happy when Dimitar is scoring because he's a nice guy and he deserves it," Patrice told MUTV. "He's had a difficult moment not playing a lot, but he's been working really hard.
"You see the strikers we've got: Danny Welbeck is on fire, Chicharito, Wayne Rooney... this is United. We have to have the competition for every place, everyone has to fight for their place.
"You see Berba scored a hat-trick [against Wigan] and he deserves it because he wants to play."
Evra was part of a makeshift back four against the Latics with United's mounting injury list forcing the Frenchman to finish the game at centre-back alongside midfielder Michael Carrick.
And United's stand-in skipper - in the absence of captain Nemanja Vidic who is out injured for the season - admits the Reds' run of bad luck on the fitness front is getting very frustrating.
"It's starting to be annoying, because it's not the first year we got so many injuries," adds Evra. "Two or three years ago, I played at the back with