Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans apologises over West Brom training trip incident

By Jonathan Bell

West Brom and Northern Ireland football star Jonny Evans has apologised after an incident during a training trip to Barcelona with his club.

He, along with Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill were interviewed but not arrested after the incident in the early hours of Thursday.

The BBC reported a taxi was taken without its driver in the early hours of the morning outside a fast-food restaurant and taken to a hotel. The taxi driver was later reunited with his vehicle.

The Premier League club would not confirm what happened and are investigating the incident, which happened during a training trip intended as a morale-boosting exercise for the relegation strugglers.

West Brom said the four players would be "subject to the full rigours of our internal disciplinary procedures". Manager Alan Pardew described the behaviour as "unacceptable".

Releasing an apology on the club's official website, they said it was important to do so "out of respect for team-mates who otherwise could be implicated by association".

The statement added: "We would like to take this opportunity to apologise to our team-mates, the head coach, the club and especially the supporters for the events which have been the subject of widespread and negative publicity.

"We freely acknowledge and apologise for the break of curfew which we accept represented a breach of the standards of professionalism required of us as representatives of West Bromwich Albion FC.

"The club has informed us that it will now conduct its own inquiry into the incident and we will co-operate fully.

"In the meantime, we would like to assure our supporters that this incident does not reflect the determination and resolve we possess to do all we can to recover a difficult season."

Evans grew up in Rathcoole before joining the youth academy at Manchester United. He broke through into the first team in 2008 and in eight seasons won three Premier League medals. He moved to West Brom in 2015 for £6m and is the current club captain.

The 30-year-old has been capped 67 times for Northern Ireland, often lining up alongside brother Corry. In the past year the £30m-rated defender has been at the centre of a transfer tussle with both Arsenal and Manchester City keen to secure his signature.

West Brom initially described those involved as "senior players". Barry holds the record for the most Premier League appearances by any player, while former Manchester United defender Evans leads the team, Livermore is a current England player and Myhill is a highly experienced goalkeeper and international.

West Brom are rooted to the foot of the Premier League, seven points from safety as the season nears its conclusion.

Boss Pardew said of the incident: "We have gone there to try to get ourselves up and ready for this run-in, and this is obviously not ideal.

"They break a curfew, and that is unacceptable, and I feel a bit let down by that."

He added: "We have 11 games left and we are in the last 16 of the FA Cup, and our fans will want to see us put in a performance tomorrow."

Asked if he would understand if fans felt let down, Pardew said: "Absolutely, and we have to respond with a performance tomorrow."

West Brom earlier this week sacked chairman John Williams and chief executive Martin Goodman, with Mark Jenkins returning as chief executive.

Asked if he was confident his position was safe, Pardew - appointed in November - said: "I think (with) all these situations, you can't be certain of your job, you just have to try to do your job, and that is what I will do."

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