Alan Biggs: Can Ched Evans repay Danny Wilson's faith when Chesterfield take on Sheffield United?
There have been many fluctuations in the life of Chedwyn Michael Evans since he last took to the same football field as Sheffield United. Constant factors have been few and far between.
No-one needs reminding of the recent history or the deeply divisive backdrop to Evans’ much-hyped appearance this weekend for Chesterfield against the Blades, for whom he scored35 goals in the season leading to those events.
The intervening arguments are consigned to other days and past columns, not this one.
But one of those few constant factors IS worth recalling for its relevance purely to football and what might happen at the Proact Stadium on Sunday.
It’s why Chris Wilder’s in-form, promotion-challenging Blades will be wary of falling foul of the sort of storyline that can unfold around one spotlighted individual, even one playing for a team second bottom.
Aside from his girlfriend and family, Evans had a prominent and significant football figure in his corner throughout his trial, imprisonment and eventual clearance from conviction.
Danny Wilson is more than just the manager who brought the Wales striker back into football, controversially in advance of his retrial.
Wilson, of course, was his boss at Bramall Lane, too.
You will not have read too much about the private support because the Chesterfield manager has never publicly discussed the individual or the case, beyond his abilities as a footballer.
But the prison visits, conducted in secret, were real enough, as was Wilson’s belief in the eventual outcome which underpinned his club’s bold and unexpectedly timed decision to sign the player last summer.
Right now, in another context, it is Wilson who needs the support – despite the tonic of an FA Cup win at Colchester in which Evans broke at lean run to score, plus another win in the Checkatrade Trophy.
And the same player is the likeliest source of rescue for Wilson.
Chesterfield have gone eight league matches without a win, losing the last six and failing to score in any of them.
This hour of need will not be lost on the top goal-scorer, whose four previous strikes for the Spireites date back to early season.
Neither probably will the stormy circumstances that conspired against a return to Bramall Lane, though I think these have proved to be cruel twists for the Blades.
So, much as United will be rightly and firmly backed to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to 13 matches, you simply cannot overlook the irresistible, unpredictable ingredient that has enticed live television to this fixture.
But in the wider scheme of things, this one match apart, it’s important not to overstate the value of one player.
There were those who said Sheffield United couldn’t win promotion without Chedwyn.
I think they are about to prove that they can.