Stevens, who underwent hernia surgery earlier this summer, made his first appearance for Sheffield United this season during tonight’s Carabao Cup tie - celebrating the occasion by scoring the opening goal of a contest the Premier League club eventually won on penalties.
Despite telling The Star he “knew” Stevens could complete the full 90 minutes, Jokanovic revealed the defender was supposed to be substituted “after about an hour” to avoid any risk of a set-back.
However, with Freeman and Burke both being forced off with knocks which could threaten their availability for this weekend’s Championship fixture against Derby County, Stevens stayed on the pitch instead.
“Enda Stevens hasn’t reported any issues,” Jokanovic said. “We know he can play 90 minutes. We don’t want to take a risk with him. We had plans. I advised him about those.
“We couldn’t follow them, though. He was tired. Without any problems from before though, which is good news.”
Stevens will be assessed again by United’s medical staff before Thursday’s training session, before a decision is taken on whether or not he can feature in the squad which faces Wayne Rooney’s side.
“The players need to compete,” Jokanovic said, praising Stevens’ resilience. “He didn’t play any pre-season games, and we are thinking if there was a space to change him.”