Sunderland 10 years ago: Jonny Evans set to leave

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on Sunderland 10 years ago.

JONNY: BE GOOD!

Evans wishes Cats well for the future as he prepares to leave

JONNY EVANS wants a Championship winners’ medal as the perfect leaving present before returning to pursue his dreams with Manchester United.

The centre-back plays what may be his last game for Sunderland when they target the Championship title at Luton tomorrow.

He has not closed the doors on coming back to Wearside if he was asked, but is honest about his ambitions.

Sunderland’s Young Player of the Year said: “I wouldn’t think twice if United offered me the chance to come back here next season.

“It’s been an amazing experience and one that I’ll never forget,

“May main aim is to get back and play for Manchester United. As long as they want me, I’ll want to be at United.

“But this has been a very special time for me and if we could finish off with a medal, that would be perfect.

“Winning things is what we are in the game for and we’ll do everything we can to try to make that happen tomorrow.” 

Northern Ireland international Evans arrived on loan in January and has missed only one of the 19 games that have been played since – a period that brought only a single defeat.

He was voted Young Player of the Year by Sunderland Supporters’ Association and users of the Black Cats’ official website, safc.com.

Sunderland will win the title if they beat basement Luton tomorrow and Birmingham fail to win at Preston. A draw is only good enough for the Black Cats if Birmingham lose by two goals or more.

Evans said: “We just have to win our game and hope the other result goes for us. There’s no real pressure on us or Birmingham tomorrow.

“We’ve both got promotion and the title would be the icing on the cake,

“The teams under pressure are those fighting to stay or get into the play-offs.”

Luton have only pride to play for, while Blues face a Preston side desperate to haul themselves back into a play-off slot on the last day.

Evans said: “We won’t take Luton lightly. They’ll want to spoil our party and finish the season with a bit of pride, even though they’re already down. It’s their last game in the Championship and they’ll want to win it for their fans.

“Preston have made it difficult for themselves with their recent results and they’ll be fighting to stay in with a chance of promotion so I think that’s the harder game.”

Whatever the outcome of the title race, the 19-year-old takes treasured memories from his spell on Wearside – which he has shared with fellow Red Devil loanee Danny Simpson.

He added: “The gaffer brought in some good players and we got on a roll. Danny and I got a great reception after the Burnley game last weekend and we’re both grateful to the fans for that.

“I’m not really thinking about tomorrow as my last game because last week was so special and nothing can top that.”

KEANE: WE WERE SO LUCKY TO GET EDWARDS:

ROY KEANE is surprised he wasn’t beaten to the signature of star winger Carlos Edwards.

Edwards returns to former club Luton tomorrow looking forward to realising his dream of playing in the Premiership next season.

Keane says the winger has been a key man during the Black Cats’ promotion run, though he wasn’t at his best at the Stadium of Light when Luton went down 2-1 in December.

The Sunderland boss said: “We had heard about Carlos before he came here with Luton and we’d had him watched, but I had not seen him playing.

“I have to say that I didn’t think he had a particularly good game against us that day, but I saw the width he gave Luton and he gave us one or two problems.

“I just thought, ‘lets go for him.’

“He’s got the chance now to go up into the Premiership and I think he’s the kind of player that can do well there because he’s quick and can score a goal.

“I’m a bit surprised he didn’t get into the Premiership sooner with his ability, but I’m not complaining that we got in there first.”

It will be a special day for Edwards going back to Luton tomorrow for the closing game of the season tomorrow hungry to do well.

The Irishman expects no problems in terms of motivation for Edwards or any of his players tomorrow.

He said: “We’re going there to win – that’s what we all want.

“We know if we win then we have a good chance of winning the Championship. That’s all my mindset is.

“I’m not interested in parties or celebrations or taking my foot off the gas.

“The way I work, half measures don’t get you anywhere. It has got to be full steam ahead and that’s what I’m expecting from us tomorrow.

“We’re representing Sunderland and we’ve managed to win a few games, and, let me tell you, that’s a nice habit to have.”

Sunderland can only take the Championship title if they beat Luton and Birmingham fail to win at Preston. A draw would take Keane’s men top if Birmingham lose by two or more goals.

The twist in the tale, of course, is that Keane’s former Manchester United team-mate is in charge of Birmingham, but the Old Trafford old boys have not beem in touch with each other.

“Steve’s got his job to do and I’ve got mine,” said Keane. “We’ll probably talk about it when it’s all over, but this isn’t the time.

“We’re just looking after our own squads and making sure they’re ready for the last game.”