LATEST: Travelling Sheffield United fans defiant over Ched Evans issue

Ched Evans and Natasha Massey
Ched Evans and Natasha Massey
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The Sheffield United fans sang: “We’ll sign who we want.”

Inside the first 10 minutes at Walsall there was a muted, brief, moment when a minority of the travelling supporters stuck their heads above the parapet to sing about Ched Evans.

It can hardly be considered support, more football fans’ act of defiance with their club and former player under considerable, justified and understandable scrutiny.

Evans, a former Wales international striker, was released from jail last month after serving half of a five-year jail term imposed in April 2012 for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room in Rhyl.

He is expected to return to training at Bramall Lane imminently, after a request from the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Although the club insist “no decision had been taken to re-sign him as a player” the backlash has grown.

Already, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, MP for Sheffield Hallam, has urged the club to think “long and hard” about re-signing the 25-year-old.

United have seen three patrons quit and one of the club’s sponsors, DBL Logistics, has confirmed it will withdraw support if the club re-signs the striker.

Supporters were tight-lipped before the game when asked by reporters for their views though.

The die-hards were at the Blades’ 1-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat to the Saddlers, with one remarking the fact they had made the trip on a cold Wednesday night showed where their focus really lay.

A few were more forcible in their desire not to speak about the striker, although some of the travelling Blades felt he had served his time and deserved a second chance. While they were not prepared to go on the record there was a clear inference they felt it was time to move on.

But, aside from early chants - which did not come from all of them - the 342-strong United backing were too concerned with watching their side tumble out of the Trophy.