THE performances of Matt Phillips and Billy Clarke against Preston North End earlier this week lend weight to Danny Wilson’s claim that Sheffield United “are not the Ched Evans Show”, writes James Shield.
But as Bramall Lane bristles with anticipation about whether the manager’s latest acquisitions will be deployed at Leyton Orient tomorrow, the Wales international remains at the forefront of his plans.
Evans, rested for
Wednesday’s victory over Phil Brown’s side despite delivering a powerful display during the recent Steel City derby, is expected to return to action in the capital after averaging more than a goal per game since recovering from a serious knee injury in September.
The former Manchester City striker’s resurgence has been one of the success stories of Wilson’s reign.
Evans’ life might be far from tranquil off the pitch but on it, having been transformed under the new regime’s tutelage, he looks positively serene.
“I can’t speak about what’s happened before we came here,” Wilson said. “What I can say, though, is that Ched has been a model professional for us and we’ve not had one inch of trouble out of him.
“He’s been a brilliant addition if you can call him that and, quite possibly, what he’s doing now is borne out of frustration because things haven’t gone exactly as he would’ve liked.
“If we have success then he’ll be a massive part of it.”
United climbed to fifth when Phillips and Lee Williamson both scored twice en route to a 4-2 success at Deepdale with Wilson adding: “There are others who have huge roles to play too.”
Evans, who completed a £3 million transfer from Eastlands in 2009, is already nearly a third of the way towards surpassing the 13 goals he recorded during his first two seasons in South Yorkshire.
“Ched isn’t raw,” said Wilson. “Far
from it. He’s played at the highest level for his country and he was brought up at a very, very good club where he’ll have been surrounded by very, very good players.
“But if you get a price tag like that at such a young age then I suppose it can affect you.”
Evans – aged 22 - and Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald were charged with rape following an alleged incident in Denbighshire earlier this year.
Both men pleaded not guilty when they appeared at Caernarfon Crown Court last week with a trial now listed for March.
With United languishing in League One, Wilson, who was appointed when predecessor Micky Adams failed to preserve their Championship status last term, will be acutely aware Evans’ wages are likely to be far in excess of what a third-tier club can sensibly afford.
“His stock is rising already but I’m not worried about people making bids,” said Wilson.
“I can’t control that.”