HOW do you solve a problem like Ched Evans?
Danny Wilson’s decision to welcome the Wales centre-forward back into the fold after nearly five months in the footballing wilderness makes perfect sense given the depleted attacking options at his disposal.
But, given the player’s predicament off the field, it is also one which threatens to upset the quiet calm with which Sheffield United have, by and large, been able to go about their business this season.
Not to mention rob them of a valuable source of revenue should Evans, who as Bramall Lane’s highest earner appeared certain to be sold following the club’s relegation last season, suffer a recurrence of the ankle problem which has kept him sidelined since April. Or sustain another serious injury.
Football, though, is not an exact science. Everything a manager does is loaded with risk. With Jordan Slew and Daniel Bogdanovic both departing during the recent transfer window, Wilson clearly thinks this is one worth taking as he seeks to strike a balance between delivering results and good financial husbandry.
“Ched can have a big role to play,” he said, after watching him score on his return at Scunthorpe last weekend.
Nevertheless Evans remains an enigma.
A player capable of scoring a goal a game for his country at under-21 level yet who, by his own admission, has failed to achieve anything near the same success on the domestic stage.
Coaxing the potential out of Evans’ 22-year-old limbs has befuddled some of United’s sharpest brains ever since his £3m move from Manchester City in 2009.
Kevin Blackwell’s predecessor, Gary Speed, regarded his compatriot as something of a personal project after persuading directors not to cut their losses before taking charge last season.
The former Everton and Newcastle midfielder’s reign was painfully brief but, during his time at the helm, Evans netted twice in 15 appearances.
When Speed’s trusted lieutenant, John Carver, who cajoled his players and encouraged a patient, passing game, stepped into the breach he flourished with three in four.
One manager and nine months later, Evans now finds himself working for a coach who embraces exactly the same principles.
Wilson, possibly, is the right person to help guide the St Asaph born marksman through arguably the most difficult period in both his professional and private life.
Evans did attract headlines, albeit unwanted ones, when he was arrested and then charged with rape earlier this year.
Fortunately supporters, as he discovered at Glanford Park, are capable of paying respect to Britain’s cherished legal principles. Innocent until proven guilty, United’s are likely to be just accommodating should he continue to impress under Wilson’s tutelage.
With rules governing expenditure soon to be rolled out across the Football League, it seems inconceivable that the South Yorkshire club can continue to lavish the type of sum they pay Evans each week on any player; no matter how effective they might be.
Barring a remarkable gesture of generosity from Evans himself, only the bravest of punters would bet on him being offered a new United contract. But if Wilson can get Evans firing on all cylinders then everyone wins.