Belfast Telegraph

Evans awaits Premiership breakthrough

By Stuart McKinley

Jonny Evans is targeting his Premiership League debut after playing his part in keeping Italian golden boy Francesco Totti quiet in his first full 90 minutes for Manchester United.

The Northern Ireland defender was handed a full Champions League bow on Wednesday night when United claimed a 1-1 draw against Roma in the Stadio Olympico.

And, after erasing the memory of his first apperance for the Old Trafford first-team - the Carling Cup nightmare against Coventry City in September - the 19-year-old is keen to keep progressing.

So much so that the Newtownabbey lad is confident he will be ready if required to face Liverpool in the massive north-west Premier League derby between the sides on Sunday.

"Nobody has been told who is in the squad for the weekend and it might not be named until tomorrow," Evans said after his appearance in Rome.

"I don't even think Sir Alex Ferguson knows what it will be yet.

"You never know what can happen in football and players can even get a chance when someone gets injured in a warm-up.

"The main thing is when the chance comes you have to be ready and I know I am if I'm called upon.

"The manager needs to be able to trust his players and in everything you do, you try to gain his trust and that of the players around you, so that they know you can do a job too."

And Evans was inches away from making it a dream European debut.

"I was about to put the ball into the net as it came across goal from a corner when the right-back Cicinho poked it away from me," said Evans.

"I saw the glory and couldn't believe that he'd managed to clear it.

"He turned around and laughed at me because he could see the look on my face."

It was all so different to that Carling Cup tie against Iain Dowie's Coventry when Evans lasted only an hour and since then some of the young players who appeared that night have been sent out on-loan.

"As far as I am concerned the Coventry game is long forgotten," he said.

" We were all young players who hadn't played together a lot before and I was also still trying to get over an ankle injury.

"It took a while to get another chance, but I think now we have put the record straight. "

Evans already has eight international caps to his name and that experience stood him in good stead as he was assured and composed in the intimidating atmosphere of the Stadio Olympico.

And it was a fear of what might happen there that prevented Evans' parents from seeing him in action and they also missed out on the television coverage.

" Rome isn't the safest of places to go for away fans, so my mum and dad thought it was better that they didn't go," he said.

"They tried to watch the game on TV, but they didn't realise it was only on the interactive service, so all today my dad was waiting for the re-run to come on MUTV so he could watch it."

The Evans family haven't had much luck when it comes to watching their son lately.

Last month they travelled to Gran Canaria for Northern Ireland's final Euro 2008 qualifier against Spain only for Jonny to pick up his second yellow card of the campaign against Denmark the previous Saturday night which meant he missed the Spanish match through suspension.

Belfast Telegraph


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