Sheffield United: Ched Evans plays through pain barrier against Norwich to repay Blades' fans for backing
Ched Evans will play through the pain barrier against Norwich City this afternoon to repay Sheffield United and their supporters for the backing he has received since returning to Bramall Lane.
Chris Wilder, the Championship club's manager, revealed earlier this month that Evans is operating at around "70 per cent" of his ability after aggravating a long-standing ankle injury earlier this season.
The Wales international, confirming the problem traces back to his time at previous club Chesterfield, said: "I've got a lot of time for Blades fans, the way I've been treated is heart-warming. That's keeping me going at the moment because I could easily say to the gaffer that I'm not fit enough to play and just sit in the stands, but that isn't me. I'm here to contribute and, even with the issue, I'm still trying my best to add something to the squad. It's as much for the fans as it is the gaffer and the lads."
Evans, aged 28, scored 48 goals in only 86 starts during his first spell with United. Despite struggling to recapture his best form so far this term, he was named in the starting eleven for today's meeting with City; where he spent a successful period on loan nine years ago.
Speaking in United's official matchday programme, Evans said: "My ankle has been giving me issues for quite a while now, it stems from my time at Chesterfield. I came here and did all the right work and got all the right treatment. But before that I was getting quick fixes, steroid injections, to get me through games and maybe that is a factor in how the ankle is reacting now.
"I spoke to the gaffer and said to him this isn't a club where you can just coast through training and games and he agreed. I think I'm operating at around 70 per cent, the pain is hampering me and stopping me shooting and sprinting properly."
Despite sympathising with his predicament, Wilder was forced to select Evans for this afternoon's meeting with City after Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke and Clayton Donaldson joined fellow striker's James Hanson and Caolan Lavery in the treatment room.
"I'm assured the situation isn't getting any worse so that should be taken into account," Evans added. "In the short-term, I can keep playing at around 70 per cent but in the long-term that doesn't suit anyone; myself or the club.
"I'm happy to carry on through the next few weeks and I know that it won't be long before I can really show what I can do on the pitch."
Surgeons have recommended Evans undergoes surgery to cure the problem once and for all.
"It isn't a major operation or a long time on the sidelines," he said. "It will be minor surgery that will, fingers crossed, see me miss around a month or so. Basically it is just a clean up of my ankle and getting rid of the area that's giving me the problem and pain."