Coleman won't say yes or no on potential Ched Evans return

Sheffield United and Wales footballer Ched Evans Sunday July 31, 2011.  (8431777)

Sheffield United and Wales footballer Ched Evans Sunday July 31, 2011. (8431777)

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WALES boss Chris Coleman is making no assurances on the international future of Ched Evans.

The former Sheffield United striker is serving five years in prison after being convicted on a rape charge, but is expected to be released in October.

It is understood the player is ready to resume his career at Bramall Lane having met with Blades manager Nigel Clough and the United chairman in prison, but his potential return is proving contentious, with a petition against anyone signing the player topping 60,000 signatures.

Evans is battling to clear his name after lodging an appeal with the Criminal Cases Review Commission and has already unsuccessfully tried to contest his sentence.

It raises the question as to whether Wales will consider the player eligible for selection should he resume his club career, but Coleman, who on Wednesday named his first squad for Euro 2016 qualifying, wasn’t prepared to offer a yes or no answer on the matter.

“Ched Evans is a conversation we’ve not yet had, it’s not a five minute conversation, it’s a serious one and I’ve not yet spoken to anyone at the FAW on the matter.

“It’s a long and serious conversation we need to have, I have thought about it privately.

“I don’t know Ched, I’ve never been in his company, I don’t know him, but because of what has happened, it would be a serious conversation we’d need to have.

“It has been documented there is a petition against him, others are saying if he was a carpenter or plumber he’d be able to get on with his career, but I can’t say what it means for us.

“Until I have a conversation with the FAW I can’t put myself in front of Ched and go into ‘is he guilty, is he not guilty?’ he is trying to clear his name, but he was found guilty of a horrible crime.

“If I am honest, it is a horrible position to be in. I’ve not met Ched, I don’t know a lot about him, but if he comes back and does go to a club, it’ll be hard for him.

“I was out for 12 months with an injury and it took me a whole season to get back to where I needed to be. Ched has been away two-and-a-half years and that’s a long, long time.

“If he does come back, at whatever club that is, I wouldn’t imagine he’ll find it easy to be at the level he was before.

“It’s a very serious matter, of course.”

Coleman indicated that he could be set to field Gareth Bale as striker in Wales’ first qualifier, away in Andorra on Tuesday, September 9.

Sam Vokes is out until at least December with a cruciate ligament injury and Craig Bellamy has retired.

Coleman also confirmed Wales have complained officially to Fifa about Andorra’s artificial 3g pitch and the matter will now be investigated with the possibility remaining that the contest could be moved to a different country altogether.

Coleman also indicated he might switch to a 5-3-2 system during the campaign after James Chester decided to accept the chance to play international football for the Dragons.

The formation has been derided in recent weeks after an unsuccessful start to the campaign for Manchester United and Queens Park Rangers.

Coleman did name three uncapped players in his squad, United striker Tom Lawrence and goalkeeping duo Kyle Letheren (Dundee) and Tranmere’s Owain Fon Williams.

Wales squad: Hennessey, Letheren, Fon Williams, Chester, Collins, Davies, Gunter, Matthews, Ricketts, Taylor, Ashley Williams, Allen, Huws, King, Ledley, Ramsey, Vaughan, Bale, Church, Lawrence, Robson-Kanu, George Williams, Jonathan Williams

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