Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder expects Ched Evans to make a serious push for a starting role after making a dream return to action for the club during last night’s Carabao Cup victory over Walsall.
Wilder, who submitted a bid for Wolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Conor Coady before the first round tie, revealed the Wales international has jumped ahead of Caolan Lavery in the race to challenge Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke following his performance against Jon Whitney’s side.
Evans, making his first competitive United appearance for over five years, was instrumental in the comeback which saw Wilder’s side come from a goal down to win 3-2.
Speaking afterwards, Wilder said: “What I saw from Ched is exactly what I expected. It’s exactly what I expect from every player in his position to be fair.
“I told Caolan afterwards, ‘he’ll force his way past you (in the pecking order) on that.’ It’s a team game but, at times, it does become an individual sport.”
“I’m not saying he’s going to go straight into the side (at Middlesbrough) this weekend,” Wilder, who signed Evans from Chesterfield three months ago, added.
“But, I tell you what, if that carries on then Billy and Leon are going to have to play well themselves if they want to stay in.
“He’s nowhere near at his best yet because he missed a lot of football in pre-season. But that’s what it’s all about; making the most of your chances and taking your opportunities. I want tough decisions and, if that continues, he’ll give me one. We’re delighted for him.”
United, who have made an official approach for their former loanee Coady as Wilder presses ahead with attempts to strengthen his squad, fell behind when Amadou Bakayoko fired Walsall into an early lead.
Evans set in motion the chain of events which saw Kory Roberts turn the ball into his own net before, having stepped-off the bench, providing an assist for Nathan Thomas.
Daniel Lafferty’s long-range effort proved decisive when Erhun Oztumer converted a late penalty for the visitors.
Coady, who played 50 times for United after arriving at Bramall Lane from Liverpool in July 2013, is understood to be surplus to requirements at Molineux following Nuno Espírito Santo’s summer recruitment drive.
“Yes, we have put a bid in,” Wilder said.
“What it is will remain between the two clubs. Yes, it’s ambitious. But we like to think we are an ambitious club.”