Belfast Telegraph

Corry's family plans could help to bear fruit on big stage for Northern Ireland

By Stuart McKinley

Corry Evans put his new born daughter before Premier League football when he decided to quit Hull City.

The midfielder joined Blackburn Rovers 10 days ago, with the thought of playing closer to his Manchester home and a three year contract too good an offer to turn down.

And with his long-term future at club level secure, Evans now wants to make an impact at international level by helping Northern Ireland to record a memorable victory against Russia in tomorrow night's World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park.

"I was in the last year of my contract at Hull City and I wasn't sure how many games I was going to play this season," said Evans.

"I spoke to the manager, Steve Bruce, and he said that he didn't expect a bid to come in for me.

"He told me that I could stay and play maybe 20-30 games this season, but that he couldn't guarantee anyone that amount of game-time.

"He knew that I was travelling a lot from Manchester and put the decision in my hands.

"I had to think about my family too, I have just had a little girl, so there were a lot of things that were just right – playing back in the north-west, more security with a three year contract and it's a good club as well.

"I'm sad to leave Hull, but I had to look out for myself."

Evans was one of Northern Ireland's heroes of Porto last October, when Michael O'Neill notched up the biggest result of his time as international boss with a 1-1 draw against Portugal.

The clash against Fabio Capello's Russia presents O'Neill with the opportunity to better that and Evans is hungry to give the manager his first win, in his 10th game as boss.

"To put in such a big performance against Portugal and to come away with a point was brilliant, but in the other games at home we've come off thinking that sloppy goals have cost us and we've got to fix that," said Evans.

"If we can do that I think we'll be alright.

"We know that we should be a lot higher and with more points in the table.

"Russia are a great team with a lot of really good experienced players.

"They have a really good manager in Fabio Capello – he knows his stuff.

"Maybe having them at home will give us an advantage and who knows? We can maybe cause an upset.

"Hopefully we can recreate one of those old famous victories against a bigger nation at Windsor Park."

O'Neill had his team well prepared before the original fixture against Russia was postponed after unseasonal snow in March and the plans are unlikely to change much this time.

"I'm not sure what the manager has in mind, but whatever it is we'll be ready," said Evans.

"There is no pressure on the players, nobody talks about how long it is since we won.

"Michael has been very unlucky not to get a win and I am sure it will come.

"He's done a lot of work and I am sure it's only a matter of time."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph