Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Evans set to play through pain barrier in Poland

Jonny Evans has had an injection in an attempt to sort out his troublesome ankle injury.

And now the Manchester United defender wants to give Poland the needle and spike their hopes of qualifying for next summer’s World Cup finals.

News that Evans was prepared to delay an operation in order to play in the double header against the Poles and Slovakia was a shot in the arm for Northern Ireland manager Nigel Worthington and the 21-year-old is expected to be handed an immediate return to the starting line-up after missing last month’s friendly against Israel as a precaution.

Since then the Newtownabbey-born defender has been nursed through games by Sir Alex Ferguson and Evans had been prepared to put his country before himself until having the ankle injected a couple of weeks ago.

There had been confusion over whether surgery was required, with Worthington revealing on the day that he announced the squad for tomorrow night’s game that he’d taken a call from Evans, saying that there was a need for an operation, but that he would be available for international duty first.

Then last week Ferguson effectively told the Northern Ireland boss to keep his nose out and that he would be the one to decide when his players would go under the knife.

Thankfully for Worthington and Northern Ireland the Old Trafford boss hasn’t dictated to Evans as yet and he will line-up in Chorzow for the biggest game in his international career.

“My ankle is fine,” was the good news from Evans.

“A few weeks ago I went to see a surgeon and there was definitely a case that an operation was a possibility.

“I had a steroid injection in it after we played Wigan Athletic a couple of weeks ago. It’s lessened the injury a bit, it’s not as sore so I can’t get through with it.

“The injection was a last resort before that. If that hadn’t worked then I would definitely be looking at an operation.

“So far it’s worked, so at the minute the operation has been put on hold.

“I definitely wanted to play in these two games. If there was a case where I needed an operation or I was going to be out for a long time I would definitely have postponed it until after these two qualifiers because after this we’ll have an idea of what our chances are.

“I am desperate to play in these games and I’m glad I’m here.”

Evans did miss United’s win over Arsenal last Saturday, but that had nothing whatsoever to do with the ankle and had it not been for a bout of illness he would have faced the Gunners.

“I’d no problem with it last weekend, I woke up on Saturday morning and wasn’t feeling too well and the staff decided not to take any risks with me,” he said.

This year has been good to Evans. He has established himself firmly in the Manchester United first-team squad, was part of the team that won the Carling Cup, collected a Premier League winners medal and was on the bench in the Champions League final.

And he has his sights on 2010 being even better — culminating in a trip to South Africa for the World Cup finals.

“It’s been a good year for me, so many highs — and there’s been lows as well,” he said.

“Hopefully there are more highs for me to come as well. To get to the World Cup would be a real highlight for everyone.”

And while he scored against Poland at Windsor Park, it’s keeping the Poles out that he is focused on this time.

“It’s always tough going away from home, but looking at the situation if we can raise our game a bit more then hopefully we’ll get a result out there,” he said.

“The big thing for us is to try to keep a clean sheet. If we do that we’ll get at least a point and that would be a good result for us.”

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