Evans doubtful for Lux after ankle flares up

Rory Dollard

JONNY Evans played through the pain in Northern Ireland's World Cup qualifying defeat by Russia but remains a doubt for tomorrow's home clash against Luxembourg.

Evans underwent ankle surgery in the summer, forcing a lengthy rehabilitation and a belated start to the domestic season with Manchester United.

He has yet to feature for the first team this term but was thrust straight into Michael O'Neill's starting XI for the 2-0 defeat in Moscow.

The 25-year-old limped off at half-time but, despite admitting he had been in discomfort from almost the start of the game, went on to play the full 90 minutes.

Evans' club manager Alex Ferguson is sure to take a keen interest in the central defender's fitness -- not least because of Phil Jones' latest setback -- while O'Neill will be desperate to have him available at Windsor Park.

"I've only played one reserve game this season after having the surgery in the summer so to be honest, it was just good to get back on the pitch," said Evans.


"But I felt my ankle after about five minutes. It was the same one I had surgery on in the summer but I got a heavier strap put on it and I was able to carry on for the second half. I was disappointed I felt pain so quickly in the game but if I'm being honest, I always expected I would feel a little pain -- just not that early.

"After a couple of painkillers it did feel a bit better and if anything I felt stronger as the game went on. But, like I say, I had a heavier strapping on then."

Northern Ireland's primary task at the Lokomotiv Stadium was one of containment, but Evans is anticipating an entirely different game at Windsor Park.

Although Luxembourg are actually ranked 23 places higher than their hosts at 106th in the FIFA standings, expectations will be firmly on Northern Ireland to take the attacking burden.

"The really pleasing thing (about the Russia match) is that we all stuck together and that is going to be crucial throughout the campaign," he said.

"I would like to think we will have more of the ball and try to attack Luxembourg more."