Evans up for Pompey first-team fight

Gareth Evans led the Blues last night. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gareth Evans led the Blues last night. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey fans enjoyed a 2-1 win on their last visit to the Memorial Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Gareth Evans has underlined his determination to win his fight for an extended first-team return.

And Evans believes the same goes for Pompey’s other title-winners on the fringes.

The Blues vice-captain revealed being out of the starting line-up has been one of the most testing experiences of his career.

The 29-year-old wore the armband as he was restored to the side for the 3-1 Checkatrade Trophy success over Crawley Town.

Evans has not started for Kenny Jackett’s men since being sent off in the 1-1 draw against Wigan Athletic in late August.

The spell out of the team has spanned seven games for the former Manchester United trainee.

Evans has been a constant presence in two years and 103 appearances for the Blues.

And he explained he’s never faced a spell like the current period he’s endured.

Now, the versatile talent is hopeful he is staying put in Jackett’s side.

Evans said: ‘It’s been difficult mentally trying to stay positive when you’re not in the team.

‘I’m not the type of player who is happy to be sat around on the bench. I’ve made that known to the gaffer.

‘It’s been tough but I’m doing everything I can.

‘It’s a step up in level and we’ve got a good squad, so it’s a test trying to get into the team. But that’s something I think I’m capable of.

‘The message has been to keep doing what I’m doing.

‘The manager’s been good with me, to be fair, and has been telling me on a one-to-one basis what I need to do.

‘I feel I’ve been doing what’s needed and he’s saying it’s a matter of time.

‘I’ve pretty much always played whatever club I’ve been at.

‘It’s not something I’m use to but that’s football. You can’t expect to play every minute of every game.

‘I’ve had a good run playing pretty much every game last season and the season before.

‘So you have to take the rough with the smooth.’

Evans was joined in the team by Kyle Bennett, Kal Naismith and Danny Rose against Crawley.

All were mainstays of last season’s title success but have found minutes hard to come by of late.

Injuries and form could see a way back in for them at Gillingham on Sunday.

Evans said: ‘There are some really good players here going through the same thing.

‘You find yourself sat on the bench. Then you turn around, look in the stand and see the likes of Danny and Kal.

‘There are a lot of good players not playing at the minute but that’s the quality we’ve got. So we’ve got to step up and force our way back in.

‘The lads won’t get down and when they get their opportunities they are going to take them.

‘We’re all professional lads who are keen to get in and show what we can do.

‘You never know when you’re back in. That may well be the case this Sunday.’