SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Jonny Evans targets dream double

Here's what the Echo was reporting on SAFC 10 years ago.

Sunday, 26th March 2017, 12:33 pm

SUNDERLAND defender Jonny Evans’ dream season continued at the weekend when he played a starring role in Northern Ireland’s comprehensive 4-1 win over Liechenstein.

And now the youngster is chasing glory on two fronts – hoping to win European Championship qualification with his country and promotion to the Premiership with the Black Cats.

Northern Ireland currently lie second in their group, three points ahead of Denmark and four ahead of Spain and after the weekend games.

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And should they manage a shock win against league leaders Sweden at Windsor Park on Wednesday, then all the other big footballing countries inn the group would be feeling nervous about their own qualification ahead of one of England’s minnows.

Evans helped marshall his country’s back-four as Northern Ireland kept out a lively Liechenstein for 90 minutes before the home side eventually grabbed a consolation goal in injury time.

And the young defender will hope to return to Wearside on a high later this week by helping ensure his country are not defeated by the Swedes midweek.

It has been a dream rise for Evans, who just a few months ago was learning his trade with Royal Antwerp, playing in the second tier of the Belgian leagues.

Now, after the weekend’s win, the 20-year-old defender could have a genuine hope of ending the season having helped Sunderland win promotion and with a European Championship to look forward to.

Evans credits Sunderland boss Roy Keane with helping his career move on.

“The manager has been great with me,” he said. “He didn’t come across in the way I expected from his playing days.

“If you are fair and honest, he will give you a bit of leeway. He’s excellent at quietly setting out standards he expects you to meet.

“Sunderland fans are very passionate and we have the biggest away support in the division,” he said. “I have been very impressed by the club and the local people,”

For the next couple of days though, Evans will focus on his international career – as will the other Sunderland players currently away with their countries.

Anthony Stokes was an unused substitute in the Republic of Ireland’s 1-0 win over Wales, as was Sunderland and Wales keeper Darren Ward, while Danny Collins got on for the last quarter of an hour of the game.