Sunderland captain Corry Evans opens up on really difficult spell and what's next after U21s appearances

Sunderland captain Corry Evans discusses his injury setback and aims for the rest of this season.
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Sunderland captain Corry Evans admits it’s been a really difficult period of his career but hopes he can make a first-team comeback before the end of this season.

The 33-year-old midfielder suffered an ACL injury in January last year during a match against Middlesbrough, his last senior appearance for the Black Cats. Evans returned to training with Sunderland’s first team last month and has played two matches for the club’s under-21s side over the last week, gaining 45 against both Newcastle and Leicester.

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When asked about his lengthy rehab process, Evans told Sunderland’s website: “It’s been really difficult, more mentally than anything. Being away from football for that amount of time, you are just sort of concentrating on getting fit and getting back to a level that you can. It’s a lot of long hours in the gym and throughout the summer when all the lads are off.

“Personally it’s been tough but at the same time it’s been good as well to sort of work on other things, being in the gym and working on strength and so on. The challenge of trying to build your knee and your leg to the level required, it’s been a good challenge as well.”

Evans has been able to start his coaching badges over the last year, while his Sunderland contract is set to expire this summer - with the club holding a one-year extension option. Still, the midfielder marked his comeback with a promising display against Newcastle’s under-21s side last week, playing 45 minutes and scoring an excellent goal

“I really enjoyed,” said Evans when asked about the match. “It’s nice to get back out and in amongst it playing football in a competitive way. I’ve been training for the best part of two to three weeks now, but it’s nice to finally play a game. Obviously games are a lot different than training, the intensity and so on. 

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“It was nice to get that little bit of experience and hopefully we can carry on the progression of my return to playing in the first team now.”

Sunderland have eight Championship games remaining this season, with Evans hopeful he can play a part for Mike Dodds’ side in the coming weeks.

Asked about his goals for the rest of the campaign, the midfielder replied: “I think it’s just to get back to a level that I’m happy with in terms of fitness and where I feel good with my knee. It feels good now and hopefully I can just maintain that towards the end of the season, keep building match fitness and trying to come back and get some minutes in the first team, if I can, towards the end of the season.

“Obviously there are not many games left but any games I can play between now and the end of the season will be a bonus for myself.”