Wilson denies Blades focus was lost after Evans verdict

DANNY WILSON insists the jailing of Sheffield United top scorer Ched Evans for five years on Friday was not a factor in his side’s defeat to Milton Keynes Dons.

The 34-goal striker was convicted of rape at Caernarfon Crown Court, just 24 hours before the Blades’ promotion hopes were dealt a blow by Alan Smith’s first goal since 2007.

But Wilson, who has revealed Evans plans to appeal his conviction, has refused to use the loss of the Welsh international as an excuse for a defeat that means Steel City rivals Wednesday now sit just one point behind second-placed United in League One.

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He said: “It (Evans being jailed) didn’t affect the players, not at all. We don’t use anything as an excuse. We prepared very well all week and, unfortunately, the result didn’t go in our favour.

“But that was not through having an eye somewhere else. The MK Dons game was always our main focus. These are professional players.”

Following the verdict, United released an official statement that said the club recognised “the seriousness of these events and as such wishes to respond in a responsible way when it has taken sufficient time to consider the matter fully”.

Asked what his own reaction was to Evans being convicted and sent to prison, Wilson replied: “There is no reaction, to be honest.

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“I can’t have a reaction. There is an appeal going forward now and the one thing we don’t want to do is jeopardise that.

“It is a legal situation again and going forward we can’t say anything. Until that reaches a conclusion, we can’t talk about it.

“Then we can discuss it but it would be foolish of me to talk about it now, not knowing the full facts. The legal process has to be gone through and I leave that one to the experts.”

Wilson then added: “As a player, you are always going to miss someone who scores 34 goals. But things happen in a season and you have to deal with them. Which is what we will do.”

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United were certainly a pale shadow of their usually impressive selves in the first game since the trial involving Evans and Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, who was found not guilty, concluded.

Adding to the sense of despondency among the 6,135 travelling army of Blades fans as they headed back up the M1 on Saturday evening was the knowledge Wednesday had moved to within a point of their Steel City rivals courtesy of a last-gasp win over Carlisle United.

It means the stage is set for an enthralling finale as this coming weekend United host Stevenage in a televised game that will kick off half-an-hour after the Owls’ game at Brentford is due to finish.

Asked if kicking off knowing how Wednesday have done at Griffin Park will bring added pressure, Wilson replied: “We have done it before so we know how to handle it. We just have to do our own job.

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“We are up against another good team (in Stevenage) who are fighting for their play-off position.

“It will be a stern test for us. I am sure the fans will get massively behind us. The turnout (at Milton Keynes) was terrific and I know they will have gone away disappointed. But they will know we still have a great chance so won’t be too disappointed.

“We have been prepared to go the whole distance over a period of time. It could change next week, one way or the other. But we have a great chance at home and if we get three points then it keeps us in the driving seat.”