Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough has admitted Jonny Evans’ foot injury is a potential concern for his life after football.
The 33-year-old defender has been struggling with plantar fasciitis – pain in the sole, heel and arch of the foot – and has played only 165 minutes of football for Leicester City since being brought off during the FA Cup final in May.
Such is the ongoing nature of the injury, it’s been tough for either club boss Brendan Rodgers or Baraclough to offer much certainty on Evans’ availability.
He has been named in both initial Northern Ireland squads so far this season but, not available for tonight’s game in Bulgaria, will not play a minute in either international window.
Speaking at the squad announcement this time round, Baraclough said Evans would make the final decision on any involvement.
Now the Northern Ireland chief has spoken of the long-term concerns that Evans has to take into account when making these calls, and pointed to an illness that has further complicated his potential availability.
However, the boss did offer Leicester hope of a potential return in time for Saturday’s home game against Evans’ former club Manchester United.
“It is worrying for everybody, whether it is myself, Leicester or Jonny,” Baraclough said. “He has not only got to think about his foot for the rest of his career but for life after football as well.
“I believe they have made great strides with it and Jonny is a lot happier with how it is. He is going into Leicester just off the back of an illness and it was probably that more than the foot which put him back a little bit.
“It was one of those decisions between myself, (Leicester manager) Brendan Rodgers and Jonny not to risk him but he will be back training at Leicester and I think maybe he has an outside chance to play against Manchester United at the weekend.”