Belfast Telegraph

Corry Evans now prepared to wing it for Michael O'Neill

By Stuart Mckinley

Corry Evans is willing to do Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill a favour by learning on the job at wing-back.

O'Neill has settled on a 3-5-2 as his preferred system, utilising an abundance of talent at centre-half and also allowing him to commit two forwards without leaving the side compromised in midfield, but for the plan to work he needs players on either flank who can combine the attacking and defensive demands of the formation.

Shane Ferguson is taylor-made for the job on the left, with Daniel Lafferty a capable deputy, but his options are less clear on the right.

Lee Hodson has done it before and Ryan McLaughlin has real promise but remains a relative novice for such a tough assignment.

Blackburn's Evans was handed the role against Uruguay last week and, although he prefers to play as a central midfielder, he turned in a highly competent display.

"I've never really played there, it's always been midfield at club level and that's where I want to play long term, but for your country you play wherever you're asked and you do the job," said Evans.

"Nigel Worthington used me in right midfield which wasn't natural for me either, so I've done that for a couple of years already.

"Hopefully in the future I'll have opportunities in the middle but I'm willing to do the job at wing-back.

"Billy McKinlay has been helping me in training with some of the defensive aspects and I enjoyed it against Uruguay. As long as you're playing you're happy."

Evans, 23, is back in the national squad after missing the friendly outings in Turkey and Cyprus with an ankle ligament injury sustained in the final World Cup qualifier against Israel.

He is relishing his return to Northern Ireland colours and is cautiously optimistic about the forthcoming Euro 2016 qualifiers.

"Michael has done a good job, he's not really had the resources so he's done a lot of work in the background with young players," said Evans.

"There are a few out on this trip who made their debuts the other night and did well. I think we're on the up.

"The next draw looks like we have a good chance but you never know...we have to make sure we turn up and perform.

"We have to have the right mentality and apply ourselves if we're to have any chance of qualifying for the Euro finals."

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