No blame for Jonny Evans over Bolton star's injury
Jonny Evans has been cleared of any blame for the tackle which put Bolton’s Stuart Holden out for six months — by the victim himself.
The challenge earned the Manchester United defender a red card in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Wanderers and while he will miss the next three matches due to suspension, the news is a lot worse for Holden, whose season is over after he needed 26 stitches in a leg wound.
Before joining up with the Northern Ireland squad yesterday as Nigel Worthington’s men prepare for Friday night’s Euro 2012 qualifier in Serbia, Evans issued a personal apology to the American international in a telephone call.
Holden posted on his Twitter account: “Just had sincere phone call from Jonny Evans wishing me best in recovery, def wasn't intentional just unfortunate part of game.”
Evans was making a Premier League return for United on Saturday in place of Nemanja Vidic — who was due to captain Serbia on Friday night, but he hasn’t recovered from injury and will miss the Belgrade encounter.
Another United player, Rio Ferdinand — who is also currently injured — jumped to the defence of Evans, who was defended by Alan Hansen on Match of the Day too.
Ferdinand said via Twitter: “I hope Holden is okay, an honest solid tackle between him and Evans.”
Newtownabbey born Evans will put his sending-off behind him now and instead turn his attention to Northern Ireland’s key Euro 2012 double-header which starts away to Serbia on Friday night before a Windsor Park meeting with Slovenia a week tonight.
He is certain to start the game in Belgrade, most likely in the left-back position, where he has performed more often for Northern Ireland than in his usual centre-half role.
George McCartney’s retirement from international football has left boss Nigel Worthington without an experienced left-back to call upon, but Evans has produced some excellent performances there in the past — not least on his international debut against Spain when just 18-years-old.
Goalkeeper Maik Taylor’s place in the team isn’t as certain. A knee injury caused the Birmingham No.2 missed last month’s Carling Nations Cup defeat to Scotland and he has featured just once on the bench for his club.
Taylor didn’t train with the rest of the squad yesterday in Belfast, but he wants to play against the Serbs in order to maintain a record of not missing a competitive international in seven years.