Jonny Evans admits to being pleasantly surprised at the number of outings he has been awarded this season.
The youngster, who has progressed through the academy ranks at Manchester United, expected to be a peripheral figure at Old Trafford this term.
However, the 20-year-old made his eighth start of the season as the Red Devils rounded off their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign with a 2-2 draw against Aalborg on Wednesday.
He accepts that injuries to a number of his fellow defenders have helped his cause along the way, but believes the experience he has gained as a result will help to stand him in good stead for the future.
"I was not expecting to play as many games as this. Wes (Brown) has been injured and the manager wants to rest Rio (Ferdinand) and (Nemanja) Vidic at times.
"It is nice to get a few games. I am keeping patient and trying to improve as much as I can."
Despite having dropped two points against Danish opposition in midweek, United marched into the last 16 of Europe's premier club competition as group winners.
While securing top spot could still see them pitched against the likes of Real Madrid and Inter Milan, the Red Devils will have the advantage of being at home in the second leg against whoever they are paired with.
Evans added: "It is an advantage and that will help. The main thing is to win your home matches.
"But they are all serious opponents and will make it tough for us. This competition is such a hard one and each of the teams pose different threats."