Fit-again midfielder eyeing Pompey first-team spot

Gareth Evans is eyeing breaking into Paul Cook's first-team as he maintains his injury return.

Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:01 am
Gareth Evans. Picture: Joe Pepler

The attacking midfielder completed 90 minutes during the reserves’ 2-1 victory over Southend on Monday.

It represented his first full match at any level since damaging ligaments in his knee and ankle in May.

Evans has already made his comeback this season, featuring for 64 minutes in the EFL Cup defeat at Coventry.

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The 28-year-old rates his current fitness at 85-90 per cent as he pushes for a regular first-team presence.

Yet he is confident he can soon challenge for a starting spot in Cook’s Pompey line-up.

He said: ‘I’d like to think I am a naturally fit player, the fitness is coming and I feel 85 to 90 per cent at the minute.

‘It’s just getting that final bit and matches like Monday help.

‘My left ankle is still giving me a bit of gyp because it is such a weight-bearing joint, you often find that is the case, it takes a lot of rehabilitation, but that is getting there now.

‘I didn’t move for two months because it was such a bad injury, it is going to take a while to get going, but I’m getting there now and definitely feel I should be in and around the first-team picture.

‘Southend represented my first 90 minutes and I was shattered to be fair, but I’ve just got to get through it. It is not about how I play at the minute, it’s more about staying fit and getting fit,

‘After three months out it is obviously going to be tough on the legs and going to take some minutes to get back into playing the way I play, but how you do that is by playing.

‘I didn’t feel good at Coventry to be fair, I didn’t feel sharp and needed more minutes and games.

‘It’s a case of getting a few substitute appearances and then breaking into the first-team, starting games and getting goals again.

‘Hopefully I can be involved against Exeter and probably play on Tuesday at Yeovil.’

Evans made 49 appearances last season, scoring 10 times, as he established himself as a key performer.

Cook has since strengthened his right-sided options following the recruitment of Carl Baker from MK Dons.

Yet the Blues boss has admitted his team have missed the qualities Evans can offer.

And the ex-Fleetwood man believes he can fit into whatever system Cook chooses.

He added: ‘I like to think I offer something different to what the other lads provide.

‘They are more drop in, get on the ball and try to create something, whereas I try to penetrate in behind more and get on the end of things. I do feel I offer something different.

‘I played for two-and-a-half years at Fleetwood in a diamond so am used to that, while all last season was a 4-2-3-1.

‘Hopefully I will be involved at the weekend and go from there.’