Monday 23 July 2018

Tom Flanagan: Jonny Evans unaffected by transfer talk as deadline day arrives

Jonny Evans has spent the week training with Northern Ireland at Manchester City's training base
Jonny Evans has spent the week training with Northern Ireland at Manchester City's training base

Northern Ireland defender Tom Flanagan insists international team-mate Jonny Evans has been unaffected by recent transfer talk - despite spending the week at Manchester City's training base.

West Brom captain Evans, 29, has been the subject of interest from City, Leicester and Arsenal, who all have until Thursday night's 11pm deadline to persuade the Baggies to part with their centre-back.

Though that has remained hanging over his head during the international break, Flanagan has seen no change in Evans this week in the training sessions Northern Ireland have conducted at Manchester City's training ground.

"Jonny's not worried about it," Flanagan revealed.

"With us training at Manchester City it might be more nerve-wracking for other people.

"He's coming off the back of a little injury but he's looking after himself. He's such a good professional on and off the pitch and I can't speak highly enough of him."

The two could be paired together in the World Cup qualifier against San Marino on Friday night, by which point Evans' future will be resolved one way or another, and Burton's Flanagan has been impressed by his level-headedness both on and off the field.

"The list of what I can learn from Jonny is ridiculously long," one-cap international Flanagan added.

"It's not passing the ball, or heading the ball or technique or anything like that, it's more his cool, calm collectedness. The way he carries himself and his discipline too.

"That's a big part of international football that's different to league football and his mannerisms during a game of football are very mature and I think that's where I need to get to.

"My one highlight of everything is his composure. People ask me what Jonny is like and I just say, 'He's the most relaxed man I've ever played football with'.

"The one I remember most is when I was sat on the bench against Germany and he could quite easily have gotten into their team."

Flanagan went through a transfer saga of his own earlier this summer, though by his own admission it was rather different to Evans' case.

Having made his international bow against New Zealand in June after a season in the Championship with Burton, the 25-year-old initially rejected the chance to remain with the Brewers and looked set to move elsewhere, with Birmingham and Nottingham Forest both thought to be keen.

However, with those deals falling through at the last minute, Flanagan eventually performed a U-turn and returned to Burton on the eve of the new season.

"It was getting close to things and then they were being pulled away," he said.

"I learned a lot. I don't regret my decision but I do feel very, very lucky I was able to go back to Burton and I made that clear when I did go back, and I may not have been sitting here had Burton not taken me back.

"I definitely saw the other side of football, the side that has sealed it that when I'm finished I will definitely not be a football agent and maybe not a football manager!"

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