HIS strike rate this season compares favourably with the likes of Javier Hernandez and Daniel Sturridge but, according to Sheffield United’s manager, English football has yet to see the best of Ched Evans.
The Wales striker, so often a peripheral figure following his arrival from Manchester City, has finally started to realise the potential which persuaded officials at
Bramall Lane to make him one of the most expensive players in the club’s history nearly two and a half years ago.
Danny Wilson, whose team enjoy a break from the rigours of League One competition this weekend, is adamant that, rather than reflecting his true worth, Evans’ displays in recent weeks have only provided a tantalising glimpse of the talent he possesses. “We’ve not seen everything that Ched can do,” Wilson said. “There’s plenty more to come from him, I’m certain of that.
“He’s got a cannonball in both feet and he’s strong, has a good turn of pace and is brave.
“The only thing he’s probably lacking is a bit of extra self-belief.”
Tomorrow promises to be a poignant afternoon at Bramall Lane as United pay tribute to their former midfielder, coach and manager, Gary Speed, whose body was discovered last weekend.
But football is an unforgiving business and there will be no room for sentiment once a potentially awkward FA Cup second-round tie with Torquay gets under way.
A minute’s applause rather than silence seems a fitting way to remember someone who brought pleasure and excitement to the lives of others through football.
Evans, regarded as something of a personal project by Speed during his time at United, is likely to have been deeply affected by the 42-year-old’s passing.
Indeed were it not for Speed’s insistence before taking charge last summer that Evans, whose contribution during his first 12 months in South Yorkshire had been minimal at best, was an unpolished gem then a board of directors baffled by his failure to justify a £3 million transfer fee would almost certainly have cut their losses and placed him on the transfer list.
Wilson, appointed when Speed’s predecessor, Micky Adams, departed in May after failing to preserve United’s
Championship status, is now reaping the rewards of adopting a similarly benevolent approach.
Stephen Quinn and Richard Cresswell are among those members of Wilson’s squad to praise the new regime’s methods of late, with more of their colleagues expressing similar sentiments privately.
“I don’t want people being afraid to make a mistake,” Wilson said earlier this term.
“They’re not going to get a b********g from me if something they do doesn’t come off but they will if they don’t try.
“We’re serious about our work but you’ve got to enjoy what you do, surely? You only get the best out of people if they enjoy coming in.”
Evans, who has scored nine in 15 appearances since returning from injury in September, netted twice against Oxford in the previous round.
“Another thing that really pleases me about Ched is how hard he is working,” Wilson added.
One to watch
Rene Howe is the visitors’ leading scorer in League Two having netted seven times in his last 17 starts. The former Peterborough, Kettering and Bedford striker was also on target against Chesterfield in the previous round.
This will be only the third competitive meetings between the two sides and the first since April 1982. Sheffield United won that match 4-1 at Bramall Lane with their visit to Devon earlier that season ending in a 1-1 draw.