SHEFFIELD UNITED midfielder Lee Evans insists that he has no axe to grind ahead of his first return to a place he knows well in Molineux this evening.
Evans is one of three Blades players who return to their old stomping ground, with defender Richard Stearman and striker Leon Clarke also facing their former club in a fixture of significance towards the top end of the Championship.
The Blades’ pressing need to keep their play-off quest on track means that sentiment will be secondary for the visiting trio and while Evans is looking forward to catching up with a few old faces at Molineux, his overwhelming concern is football business.
Evans is the first to admit that he felt his future had been away from Molineux for some time, with his £750,000 move to United arriving after he was recalled from a loan spell at Wigan Athletic at the start of the new year.
All told, the Welshman, who joined Wolves from Newport in January 2013, played 67 times for Wanderers – including 26 appearances in the League One title-winning side of 2013-14 – but never truly established himself in the all-gold jersey under several managers
Evans, who trained, along with several other senior Wolves’ senior players, with the Under-23s in the close season before heading to Wigan, said: “I think I had a fair crack. I am not going to sit here and blame other people for my time at Wolves. I was in and out a bit, but there is no axe to grind. I am just looking forward to the game. It should be a great one.
“I was in and out of the team for my four or five years there. My best spell was probably the League One winning season and then the start of the Championship season after that.
“Different managers come in with different ideas and, to be fair, I knew my time there was coming to an end.
“Different managers gave me new contracts when I was there. There were managers who played me more than others, but that is football. It was just time to move on.
“It was a case of finding the right club for me and I am delighted to have done that. I just knew it when I came here.
“I had great memories there and made some good friends. But I wanted to find the next step somewhere.”
He added: “There’s me, Richard Stearman and Leon Clarke all going back to a ground where we have played and had success. I am really looking forward to it.
“There are a lot of people behind the scenes that helped me a lot for however many years I was there but, to be honest, my only focus is doing a job for Sheffield United.
“I am not too fussed about anything else. Fans will have their opinions about me and they are entitled to have those. Hopefully, if I get the nod I can do a good job for us.”
Early evidence suggests the Blades have made an astute signing in Evans, who is displaying the poise that was also pronounced during an exemplary loan spell at Bradford in 2015-16.
He may have been at his new club for less than a month, but the 24-year-old believes he has already seen enough quality to suggest that the Blades can last the Championship course and extend their season into late May.
Despite a late defeat to Aston Villa in midweek, that feeling was fortified following a vibrant United performance against one of the divisional big-hitters which fully deserved more.
The Blades also flexed their muscles against Wolves in administering a 2-0 home win in the autumn and are chasing a first double over Wanderers since the promotion season of 1989-90.
Evans added: “With the quality of the players here, we have got a really good squad. There is no better year than this to have a real good crack at it. There are boys not even getting on the bench here who would easily play for other clubs. The strength in depth is there.
“The gaffer stresses that to us numerous times. Others can spend what they like but, at the end of the day, it is eleven versus eleven.
“If you look at their (Wolves) starting line-up on the night, they will have spent however many millions. But we know, with our team and our system, we can cause any team a problem. It is down to us to turn up.
“As the manager alludes to, he shops in a different market to a lot of the others. The Aston Villa team had Premier League names in it.
“But here, we take a different route. The manager here will look at players who have done well in League One as well and give them an opportunity.
“Then it is up to us to prove he was right to do that.”