Belfast Telegraph

Evans stands by denial

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans stuck to his guns and was left to face a Football Association hearing on Friday night after again denying spitting at Papiss Cisse.

The 27-year-old Northern Ireland international had been given until 6pm to respond to a charge which was levelled at both men under the FA's rule E1[a] on Thursday.

And while Newcastle striker Cisse almost immediately accepted the charge, stemming from an incident in Wednesday night's clash between the clubs at St James' Park, FA disciplinary chiefs announced Evans would fight it.

An FA statement, released via its official Twitter account, read: "Manchester United's Jonny Evans denies FA charge in relation to incident involving Papiss Cisse.

"Independent Regulatory Commission hearing tonight, decision expected tomorrow."

Evans' decision was entirely in keeping with a statement he released before charges were levelled, insisting he would never deliberately spit at a fellow professional, a sentiment backed up by his manager Louis van Gaal.

Van Gaal said of the spitting claims on Thursday: "It was not his intention and I said already I cannot imagine that Jonny Evans could do that and he has said that also. I believe him so for me the matter has been done."

Evans faces a mandatory six-game ban - the first game would be Monday night's FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal - if he is found guilty, and he faced an overnight wait to learn the verdict.

He and Cisse were charged after a panel of former elite referees unanimously agreed they both had cases to answer.

Striker Cisse reacted angrily to the defender's 38th-minute challenge on him and television replays suggested both men spat in the direction of the other as the confrontation degenerated.

Neither match referee Anthony Taylor nor his assistants saw the incident, prompting the FA to launch an investigation.

While Evans pleaded his innocence, 29-year-old Cisse was quick to issue an apology and accept the charge and the prospect of a seven-game suspension - his will be increased because of a violent conduct case earlier in the campaign - which all but ends his season.

If Evans fails in his bid to clear his name, he will sit out against Arsenal, the league games against Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Manchester City, the FA Cup semi-final if United get there, and the trip to Chelsea if they do not.

Cisse is set to miss the Magpies' league fixtures against Everton, Arsenal, Sunderland, Liverpool, Tottenham, Swansea and Leicester, and there will only be three games remaining when he becomes available once again for West Brom's visit to Newcastle on May 9.

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