Evo: I’ll shed a tear on Sunday

Blackpool FC v Birmingham City FC. Ian Evatt

Blackpool FC v Birmingham City FC. Ian Evatt

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IAN Evatt claims he’s just as likely as Keith Southern to be shedding tears come Sunday.

Southern has been given special permission by new employers Huddersfield to start and end his testimonial match against Everton.

A bumper crowd is expected at Bloomfield Road, to pay tribute to a man who has been an integral part of the club over the last decade, and has helped transform the Seasiders from League Two candidates to Premier League wannabes.

Evatt is one of a number of players at Bloomfield Road who have formed a close relationship with Southern over the years.

He was devastated when the 31-year-old departed for Huddersfield in a £300,000 move last week.

But the beauty of Southern’s testimonial is that it gives the midfielder one last chance to play alongside the lads he had been around for so long.

Evatt says it will be an emotional occasion.

“It will be lovely that he gets to come back and play with the boys one last time,” said the defender.

“It is already strange not having Keith around.

“He was a close personal friend of mine, and a very good team-mate for my seven years at Blackpool.

“I am sad to see him go, but I have spoken with him and he is really enjoying it. Larry (Huddersfield boss Simon Grayson) is looking after him, which is good.

“He needed a fresh challenge and fair play to him. But he will definitely be sorely missed.”

Evatt added: “Sunday will be an emotional day for us as well as Keith because we will all miss him.

“We’re very close at this football club and we’ve been through a lot together.

“We’ve mostly had good times but Blackpool is an emotional place to be – it wrecks your brain, week in-week out, year in-year out, and it is sad to see him go.

“Mind you, it will make a change not to be chasing his first touch, which hasn’t been nice over the years!

“But, seriously, he is a fantastic guy and he has been through so much with his family (Southern was diagnosed with testicular cancer last year). He and his family are great people and I will really miss him.”

Southern’s departure means Evatt now has a new claim to fame in the Blackpool dressing room, though not one he’s exactly comfortable with.

“With Keith gone it means I’m the longest serving player – and I don’t think anyone wants that title,” he smiled.

“I don’t think anyone’s allowed to leave here unless they’ve done 10 years’ service. I’ve been here seven years, so it means I’ve got three to go.”

Although Sunday will be an emotional occasion, and playing tribute to Southern is the main purpose, for Ian Holloway it is a perfect opportunity to see what shape his team is in.