Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is hoping to feature in more games in order to prove his first team credentials.
The 21-year-old gained a rare start in the league on Tuesday night and made the most of it by putting in a man-of-the-match performance.
The young defender helped keep quiet an imposing Stoke forward line as United picked up a 2-1 to go three points clear at the top of the league.
Sir Alex Ferguson was full of praise for the player who arrived from Fulham in the summer.
Smalling knows that as the pressure intensifies in the title race he may find his opportunities limited, but is happy to play his part when he can.
"It's nice to hear some positive words from the manager," said Smalling.
"At the start of the season I got to play every other week but I haven't had a game for the last few weeks. Hopefully I can make my presence felt and get many more.
"For the time being, it is all about concentration and consistency. That will improve the more I play.
"I know Vida (Nemanja Vidic) and Rio (Ferdinand) are the first choices, I just have make sure I do equally well when I come in, so I know I am playing my part."
Smalling has helped United to a 20-game unbeaten run in the league this season and the defender stressed the importance of continuing to pick up points.
"When you look at how Chelsea started the season, firing on all cylinders, it is credit to us that we are where we are," Smalling added.
"Hopefully we don't have that dip and we can keep going strong. The thing is, we keep winning, we are unbeaten and we are looking down on everyone else.
"We need to keep picking up points, as we have done over this Christmas period in particular. To come out with 10 points from four games is pretty good.
"Overall, everyone in the changing room is really happy with the way things are going. Long may it continue."