Portsmouth’s Gareth Evans adamant he’s the attacking man for crucial Sunderland showdown as Brett Pitman continues fight for fitness
Gareth Evans believes he’s the man to fill the number 10 role in the critical Sunderland play-off return.
The forward feels he can make a big impact from the position in the make-or-break semi-final play-off second leg on Thursday night.
The 31-year started at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, with Brett Pitman missing with a hamstring injury.
Evans was one of the only attacking players who could reflect positively on his performance in the 1-0 defeat to Jack Ross’ men.
The League Two title winner has been in and out of the starting XI over the season’s finale, with Pitman largely operating in the central role behind the striker.
Evans is adamant, however, he is the player for the occasion and that has been borne out by what he’s shown this season.
The 2015 arrival from Fleetwood has bagged 13 goals and weighed in 14 assists.
On top of that, his high-energy performances have been a big factor in much of his side’s best form this term.
Although expressing some sympathy for Pitman’s plight, Evans is ready to deliver as Pompey’s season reaches fever pitch.
He said: ‘I don’t pick the team but I’d like to feel I’m going to play a part in the game.
‘If I start the game I always feel like I’m going to make an impact.
‘My stats are pretty much always at the top when it comes to running.
‘But Brett’s a fantastic footballer and he was unfortunate to pick up the injury like he did in the week.
‘I feel sorry for him because he texted me when he got the injury results and was gutted when he knew he was going to be out of the game.
‘That’s football and, however I’m used, I’m confident I can do a job.’
After Saturday’s narrow defeat, the focus has now turned to the return at Fratton Park on Thursday night.
Excitement and a determination to make it an intimidating occasion is building among supporters ahead of the game.
With the stakes so high the pressure is on, but Evans believes that is a scenario he and his team-mates are well versed in.
The popular figure backed Pompey to thrive in the environment they will enter under the lights at Fratton.
He added: ‘We’ve got players who can deal with the pressure and deal with the occasion, and the whole city is looking forward to it.
‘We’ve got the squad who can do what is required to get us to Wembley and have another big day out.’