Evans bids to play central role

Gareth Evans
Gareth Evans
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Creative ace Gareth Evans is hoping his pre-season displays will convince boss Graham Alexander to give him a bigger role at Fleetwood Town this season.

Town face Crewe Alexandra, where Evans served his footballing apprenticeship, in their first League One fixture at Highbury on Saturday.

Evans has featured strongly in pre-season games and the former Manchester United youngster is desperate to prove his worth for Town.

He told The Gazette: “I didn’t play a lot towards the back end of last season, so maybe people forget what a big part I played earlier.

“I made 44 appearances last season – that’s not bad number.

“I’ve played a lot of football in pre-season and hopefully I’ve done enough to show the gaffer I should be in that team.”

Evans played a more central role in Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Partick Thistle, impressing with his creativity and flair, besides providing support for strike pair David Ball and Jamille Matt.

With Town having released Junior Brown, who has joined Oxford United, there are fewer options for Alexander in midfield, though he still has Steven Schumacher, Antoni Sarcevic, Jeff Hughes, Matty Blair and new recruit Keith Southern to call upon.

But Evans is confident he can make his mark and would love to feature against his former club.

He said: “I spent a lot of time at Crewe (2002-07) and still have plenty of friends there. It’s a good club and a great one to face first up.

“We all know what happened last time they came here – we battered them 4-0 (in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last October). But anything can happen in the cups and we won’t take anything for granted this time, but we’d love to start with a win.”

Evans is not Town’s only Gresty Road connection, as he was quick to point out.

“Antoni Sarcevic was at Crewe, and Mark Roberts and Steven Schumacher played there too,” he said.

“There’s a good connection between the two clubs – it’s funny how it worked out.”

Alexander admits he’s got plenty of selection headaches ahead of Saturday’s clash. He will almost certainly be without the injured Roberts and Southern as well as left-back Danny Andrew.

Jeff Hughes has not featured in pre-season, having suffered numerous setbacks in his recovery from a broken leg, though he is understood to be close to fitness.

Jamille Matt may be a doubt too, having fallen awkwardly in the final stages of Saturday’s friendly and sustaining a knee injury.

Stephen Crainey trained with Fleetwood for the first time yesterday and could be an option at left-back, a position Conor McLaughlin switched flanks to fill last weekend.

With Matt doubtful, Town continue to be linked with a loan move for Crystal Palace’s former Blackpool striker Stephen Dobbie, whose family live in Lytham.