MANCHESTER UNITED NEWS

Evans happy to push pain barrier for United cause

February 25, 2009
By Soccernet Staff

Jonny Evans will be happy to have more pain-killing injections this weekend in a bid to get through his first major final for Manchester United.

The Northern Ireland international limped out of the San Siro last night clutching Zlatan Ibrahimovic's shirt after coming through another stern examination of his defensive capabilities in the goalless draw with Inter Milan.

Evans was clearly feeling pain from an ankle injury he first suffered at Sunderland last season, which forced him to miss four games last month and finally threatened to wreck Sir Alex Ferguson's plans for facing Jose Mourinho's Serie A leaders.

But knowing a couple of jabs got him through against Inter and faced with the prospect of sitting out Sunday's Carling Cup showpiece with Spurs at Wembley, the 21-year-old will plead with Ferguson to have some more.

``It's not nice to even think about it,'' said Evans as he considered the prospect of being consigned to the Wembley stands.

``The manager has tried to tell me if I miss it, it's no big thing, but I would be quite gutted.

``I suppose my chances are the same as last night.

``In a way, that game was more important because there weren't many other options.

``That won't be the case on Sunday. But hopefully the manager will allow me to have a few more injections.''

As Ferguson has had only three orthodox central defenders in his squad for most of this season, when Wes Brown's own injury curse has returned, and Rio Ferdinand has not even made the Carling Cup bench this term, Evans would be a certainty to play at Wembley, with either Nemanja Vidic or Gary Neville alongside him.

It would be another important stride forward for a player who has now made 22 appearances this campaign, when he was expecting to make less than half that figure.

``I wasn't expecting to play anywhere near that number,'' admitted Evans.

``I got a game or two early in the season but it was when Rio Ferdinand got injured during the Club World Cup in Japan that we really got stuck for defenders and I got the opportunity to play a bit.''

On more than one occasion this season, Ferguson has stressed how important a figure Evans will one day be at Old Trafford.

It explains why the Scot refused point blank when Roy Keane tried to make last year's spell on loan a permanent arrangement at the Stadium of Light.

Although still very much a back-up option to Ferdinand and Vidic, who has been so impressive this term that he is favourite to land the PFA player of the year prize, Evans has justified his manager's faith.

And that is why the Scot is likely to give serious consideration to Evans' wishes, despite obvious reservations over the use of pain-killers to treat an injury that may eventually require surgery.

``It is more like a bone bruise on the inside of my ankle,'' Evans said.

``Maybe I have done a bit of damage there because it keeps hurting and coming back.

``It is not nice to keep struggling on, so I am going to have to get it sorted at some point in the future.

``Hopefully I can get through to the summer and then maybe have a month off.

``For now it is a case of hoping I don't get a bang on it or mis-kick.''

In the immediate aftermath of last night's goalless draw, Ferguson stated his intention to make seven changes to his starting line-up for the weekend engagement.

Yet it is more likely to be nine, with only Evans and O'Shea set to be included if the United boss sticks to his plan to use the players he has relied on so far in the competition.

Apart from Evans and O'Shea, Darron Gibson, Nani and Carlos Tevez are certainties.

Ben Foster seems set to win a personal battle with Tomasz Kuszczak for the goalkeeping spot, while Paul Scholes and Wayne Rooney are likely to play after sitting out almost all of last night's scintillating performance.

If Gary Neville is fit, he will be involved. The same is also true of Anderson, with Danny Welbeck set to profit if the Brazilian fails to recover from an ankle injury.