Belfast Telegraph

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Euro 2016 countdown: Thank Evans Jonny is feeling so much stronger now

By Steven Beacom

Jonny Evans had the most frustrating period of his career last season. He was hoping to establish himself as the main man in central defence for Manchester United, but niggly injuries, suspension and manager Louis van Gaal put paid to that ambition.

The Dutchman placed Evans so far down the pecking order that the Northern Ireland man decided the time had come to leave the club of his dreams in the summer with West Bromwich Albion his destination.

It was a testing spell for the 27-year-old, who won three Premier League titles with United.

All the while Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill kept faith with Evans, who was extremely grateful for the support.

When Evans has been fit and available he has played for O'Neill, including in four of the games in the successful Euro 2016 qualifying campaign and in Friday's 1-0 home friendly win over Latvia.

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O'Neill will need Evans fully fit and full of energy in France next year.

The player himself has admitted he has struggled in the latter stages of games this season for WBA, but is finally feeling strong again to see out the full 90 minutes at his peak.

"The last year or so I haven't been playing as much as I'd like and you are going to pick up injuries when you don't have that match fitness," said Evans.

"I missed the last international which was probably down to my body not being able to handle the games I was playing at West Brom but I feel so much stronger now for it.

"In the games leading up to the last international break, in the last 10 to 15 minutes I was starting to struggle and really feel it.

"I feel I've been playing well since I've been at West Brom and as the games have gone on I'm starting to feel stronger."

Belfast Telegraph