Loss of Evans in January would be huge blow for Blades

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SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson says the possible departure of striker Ched Evans would be a ‘major blow’ to the Blades promotion push.

Welsh international Evans has scored 11 goals in 16 games this season and helped the Blades climb to fifth place in the League One table.

His form has caught the eye of Championship clubs Southampton and Cardiff City and the Blades may decide to cash in on his services in the New Year transfer window.

Evans, however, is also due to stand trial in March over an allegation of rape – another factor that potential suitors may have to consider.

Wilson said: “It would be frustrating for everybody concerned if we lost our top striker when we are in a good position to strike in the league. Taking that away would be a major blow, of course it would, from my point of view.

“If it does happen, the decision will be taken by the club,” he stressed. “The economics of the club need to be restructured and if that is an area which affects it, obviously it will be spoken about.

“As a football manager, you want to keep your best players and that won’t change no matter what happens. You can’t keep taking goals out of your team because it’s not easy to replace them. If you had a ready-made replacement guaranteed to get you goals – which is not likely – it would be great. Overall, we just have to make sure we get the most out of him at this moment in time and see what happens in January.”

The Blades host a Rochdale side today whose manager Steve Eyre needs no introduction to Evans.

Eyre was involved in the Manchester City youth set up for 20 years prior to joining Rochdale last summer and played a key role in Evans’s development.

Evans started his career with the Blues and made 26 first-team appearances before joining the Blades for £3m three summers ago.

“Sheffield United have a striker in Ched who is in the top three frontmen in League One,” said Eyre. “On current form, I’d have to say he is probably the best.

“I worked with him when he was 18 and (Rochdale duo) David Ball and Ashley Grimes both played alongside him so we are well aware of his strengths and we will be trying to nullify his quality.”

Eyre’s father, Fred, meanwhile, spent a short period working for the Blades in the late Nineties as a chief scout and assistant manager under Howard Kendall and Nigel Spackman.

He is now a successful author, radio pundit, and after dinner speaker.

Blades defender Marcus Williams makes his final appearance on loan from Reading today, but talks have already begun aimed at securing a permanent deal in the New Year.

The Annual General Meeting of Sheffield United Plc takes place before today’s game at the Copthorne Hotel on Bramall Lane.