Northern Ireland midfielder Corry Evans has completed his move to Sunderland, tipped to be the ‘anchor’ in midfield by his new boss Lee Johnson.
Evans has signed a two-year deal at the Stadium Light, the club also holding the option of a third year, after he left Blackburn at the end of last season.
The 30-year-old started just 22 Championship games across his last two injury-ravaged seasons at Rovers and will hope to revitalise his career in League One.
He joins fellow Northern Ireland internationals Tom Flanagan, Carl Winchester and Will Grigg at Sunderland.
"I was impressed with the way (Johnson) discussed his style of play and coming to look at the training ground convinced me that this was a great place to play football,” Evans said. “From experience, I know that League One isn’t easy to get out of – it’s all about consistency and getting it right, so I’m excited to get going.”
He last played in England’s third tier with Rovers in the 17/18 campaign, when he helped his side to a second place finish and immediate promotion back to the Championship.
Sunderland are about to enter their fourth consecutive season in League One and could make good use of Evans’ experience as they bid to climb back up the football pyramid.
“Corry is an established international and he comes in to anchor, and be the glue in, our midfield,” said Black Cats boss Johnson. “He carries out a special role and it’s something that we’ve needed – we obviously lost a very good one in Grant Leadbitter, but we have been able to replace him with a long-standing international. He will make other players around him better and his maturity, experience and game-understanding will really set him apart.”
As well as Leadbitter, Sunderland have also lost fellow midfielders Max Power and Josh Scowen over the summer. While they still have Winchester – who has only one NI cap to his name – to call upon, part of their proposed solution is to pair Evans with another one of his international team-mates.
They’re understood to have held discussions with Manchester United over bringing in 20-year-old Ethan Galbraith on a season-long loan deal.
The promising midfield man has spoken about his desire to seal a short-term move in order to kick-start his senior career but before then, he’s likely to get some pre-season action with his parent club.
“We’ve got six weeks together before the league starts, and a couple of training camps here in the UK,” said United boss Ole Gunnar Solksjaer.
“The young kids will definitely be part of the Derby game (on Sunday) and then we’ve got another couple of games coming up and they can be part of it (v QPR on July 24, Brentford on July 28 and Preston on July 31).
“Gradually, more and more players from the Euros will join in. They’ll (the young players) get a taste of some football, then roundabouts early August, some will go on loan.
"We’ve already lined up a few, and some of them are still in discussions between us and the players about where is the best place to go.”