A report has emerged this week and it reveals which club Fleetwood Town player Ched Evans is close to joining as he’s set to depart.
The 32-year-old was dramatically let go by the League One outfit earlier this month, after a reported fall out with manager Joey Barton.
Now the former Manchester City and Sheffield United striker is reportedly in advanced talks to join Championship side Preston North End.
It left fans surprised with many expecting that he would have joined another League One club or a team from leagues below as it would be more to his level of quality and performance.
The Daily Mail first reported of the Lilywhites’ interest, before the Lancashire Evening Post dismissed speculation to the links saying he isn’t a target for them… yet the club are known to their fans for saying they aren’t interested in something and then end up doing the opposite to what they claim.
However a new report by Football Insider says he is in advanced talks with Preston and that the deal would be on loan until the end of the season before deciding if they want to make it full time.
Reliable journalist Pete O’Rourke @SportsPeteO, who used to work for Sky Sports, also backed up Preston’s interest, so time will really tell.
Manager Alex Neil has already stated that he would like to see the squad strengthened, while admitting there may be some outgoings.
It is believed a centre-half is top priority for North End following the injury to Patrick Bauer.
“I think we need to strengthen the squad,” said Neil. “And listen, I say that every transfer window.
“There’ll probably be a little bit of churn; I think we have had the same squad for quite a long period of time now.”
Other clubs such as Accrington Stanley, Bolton Wanderers and Bristol Rovers are said to be interested in signing Ched Evans, according to reports. Something to keep an eye on, see if they materialise to anything.
The Trotters were previously interested in him in 2019, seeing a loan deal for him collapse on January Deadline Day, speculation continued in the summer of the same year, however no move the the club came to fruition.
Ched Evans’ comedy act at Fleetwood Town was the final straw for unamused boss Joey Barton according to reports.
The Professional Footballers’ Association are said to be looking into the situation with the Welshman and his soon to be former club.
Dressing-room sources says that the manager failed to see the funny side of a comedy routine performed by Evans, seeing him deliver part of a regular Friday routine.
Barton is said to have already called out a number of players in training for wearing tights and gloves to protect themselves from the cold.
So in turn, Evans used that in his slot on a punishment game called The Spin (Wheel of Fortune-style) for minor offences, which saw him land on a ‘magic trick’, so he produced pictures of Barton and his coaching staff mocked up as ‘muscle-bound super heroes’ – and then had photos of each of them wearing gloves in training sessions during their own careers.
The Cod Army decided to get rid of the Welshman, it was confirmed by the boss after Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with Wigan Athletic.
The club currently sit 10th in the League One table, taking 29 points from 20 games played so far.
There was speculation prior the game as to why he wasn’t picked, then it was revealed that the striker missed training and therefore cannot be selected, with others thinking he got injured.
Head coach Barton cited that it was disciplinary issues and a series of “infractions” as well as his behaviour that ultimately forced his decision.
The 31-year-old scored a total of 12 times the following season and has seven so far this term, though is now looking for a new club.
Ahead of the club’s trip to Crewe Alexandra, which ended in a 1-1 draw, he said: “It will be a tough period until the window opens and I don’t even know if we’ll be able to bring anybody in of that quality in the window.
“They are tough to find, but on the flipside, I believe in culture and paying your dues every single day.
“I know the ramifications of getting big decisions wrong and I’ve not shied away from them over my tenure here.
“Multiple times there have been fan favourites (who have left), be it Ash Hunter, Cian Bolger, Bobby Grant… I’ve been critiqued for it and that is the nature of the job.
“It always comes with the territory, so I expect the Ched [Evans] one will be the same.”
“There’s been multiple infractions”
Ched Evans has left Fleetwood Town because of “discipline and behaviour” issues, says manager Joey Barton
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) December 20, 2020
However, after the 1-1 draw with Wigan last week, Barton felt it was right to speak frankly about the situation.
He said he wanted to be open to supporters and end the questions which were being asked about the absence of Evans.
Barton added: “It has been rumbling on with people asking me where he is – and I’m not a manager who likes to hide the reality.
“I think it’s important for our fanbase and the people who care about Fleetwood to know where they stand.
“A fully fit and at it Ched Evans in that game (against Wigan) would have been an asset to us, as he would be for anybody.
“At this moment in time my belief is that we’re better off without him.”
“I like Ched, I’ve got enormous respect for him, but it’s got to the point where you have to act if someone keeps crossing the line,” said Barton.
“I’ve decided as a manager that there has to be a change of scenery for him now.
“What has happened will stay in our dressing room. It’s nothing major, it’s just a number of things that have gone on recently.”
Until the Cod Army can move to recruit a replacement next month, Barton has challenged his younger players to step up to the plate.
He said: “With Ched not being in the picture we are a player down.
“We will certainly feel that short-term because we’re not Sunderland with bags and bags of players.
“The challenge is for someone to step up and fill those shoes and it looks like it’s going to be a younger player, a Shayden Morris or a Harvey Saunders who will get an opportunity.
“We’ll continue to get stronger and stronger but short-term we’ve lost a good player in Ched.
“But for us it’s an opportunity for someone to step into the breach and try to replace that kind of player.”
He called on the Fleetwood fans to have faith in him and his decision.
The head coach added: “I’ve spoken to Ched and explained to him where it was at.
“At the Blackburn pre-season game he was told in no uncertain terms that if anything like that happens again he would leave.
“For me, in the Swindon game attitude and application were not where they needed to be.
“I spoke to him about that and the response was not the correct response, so it’s an amicable, ‘Look, you need to find yourself a new club in January’.
“We’re going to go in a different direction. He’s been great since he’s been here.
“There have been great moments and he’s scored a lot of goals for us but everything runs its natural course.
“As a manager you have to make tough decisions, decisions you feel will benefit the group.
“And anybody who doubts me – and there will be a few of them, I’m sure – they only need to look at the decisions I’ve made in the last two-and-a-half years.
“Fleetwood wouldn’t be competing at the level they have been if those decisions had not been successful.”