Portsmouth Checkatrade Trophy top-scorer Gareth Evans hoping for Wembley nod against Sunderland
Pompey’s Checkatrade Trophy leading scorer is banking on a Wembley stage to extend his goal haul.
Gareth Evans has netted three times in five matches during this season’s competition, which reaches a conclusion against Sunderland on Sunday.
Of those strikes, two have arrived directly from free-kicks, emphasising the importance of his dead-ball ability to Kenny Jackett’s side.
Yet the long-serving midfielder’s starting XI presence for the Checkatrade Trophy final is under scrutiny.
Brett Pitman’s successful first-team return, coupled with Ronan Curtis’ increasing conviction over his availability, raise questions over Evans retaining his place.
The 30-year-old, though, hopes previous contributions will stand him in good stead.
He said: ‘I’ve played a large part of this competition, played quite a lot of minutes, and scored three goals.
‘Hopefully I can now play a part in the final.
‘There have been different reasons why I’ve had to play throughout the competition, sometimes it’s the rules, sometimes I’ve not played the full game on the Saturday.
‘I’ve really enjoyed it, especially once it has come to the knock-out stages, it has made it a lot more interesting.
‘Everyone is going to be desperate to play, you just have to be as professional as you can. Whether you play or not, you cheer on the lads and hope you win, that’s the main thing.
‘I hope I’m selected, we will see.’
Approaching the end of his fourth Fratton Park season, Evans recognises the impact Pompey’s cup run has had on supporters.
Particularly those living around his home in Knowle.
He added: ‘It’s going to be fantastic. Walking around the supermarket or going into the local shop, people are always asking “Are you looking forward to Wembley?”.
‘The widow cleaner came round and mentioned it, I didn’t even know he was a Pompey fan!
‘A dog walker went past my house the other day and said “Are you looking forward to Wembley?”. I’ve seen him every day for two years and he has never said a word.
‘He told me “Me and my boy have a ticket”, yet he had never mentioned supporting Pompey before that. It’s interesting to see how many Pompey fans you didn’t know.
‘It has lifted the whole city, everyone is looking forward to it, it’s going to be a great day. I can’t wait.’