CHED Evans, the Sheffield United striker, hopes his relationship with Gary Speed will lead to greater opportunities on the international stage.
Evans, who boasts 12 caps for Wales as well as 13 appearances at under-21 level, has been named in the squad which meets England in a Euro 2012 qualifier at Cardiff tomorrow. Speed controversially resigned his position with United to succeed John Toshack in December but has had to endure a three-month wait before taking charge of the principality in a competitive fixture.
Endorsing the 41-year-old’s appointment, Evans told The Star: “Gary knows my game and he knows what I can do. I’m pleased that he got the job and, fingers crossed, it can only be good for me.
“He won’t do me any favours but, like the rest of the lads here at United, I enjoyed working for him and he taught me a lot. If he does give me the chance then it’s up to me to make the most of it and take it.”
Despite averaging a goal per game for Brian Flynn’s side, Evans struggled to replicate that form on the senior stage under Toshack. Speed, however, is known to be a huge admirer of the former Manchester City youngster’s talents.
Indeed, having agreed to replace Kevin Blackwell at United during a meeting with Bramall Lane’s board of directors in August, Speed is understood to have made a passionate defence of Evans’ potential as pressure mounted on the Championship club’s hierarchy to sell.
His faith was justified as, despite a faltering start to his career in South Yorkshire, the 22-year-old has gone on to emerge as one of United’s most influential performers this season, scoring six goals in 11 matches before contracting a virus after Christmas.
Sam Vokes has also reported for duty at the Vale Hotel in Glamorgan following the withdrawal of Robert Earnshaw. Vokes, who joined United on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this year before moving to Norwich City, qualifies for Wales through his grandfather.
Although he replaced Evans at half-time during a friendly with Scotland in November 2009, the two centre-forwards enjoyed a profitable partnership together for the under-21’s.
“We’ve done well in the past,” said Vokes. “Hopefully we can put that experience to good use if we link up again and click into gear.
“Plus we’ve been working together at United so that can only be a good thing too.”