Corry Evans lays out confident stall as he eases retirement fears

Photo showing Corry Evans
-Credit: (Image: Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Corry Evans insists he is ready to get back to business after recovering from a long-term knee injury. The 33-year-old spent over a year on the sidelines after rupturing his ACL at the start of 2023, with a series of other setbacks delaying his return to competitive action.

There were some fears that the injury could force Evans into early retirement, or potentially see the midfielder walk away from international football in a bid to prolong his career.

Northern Ireland teammates Steven Davis and Stuart Dallas both retired this year after suffering serious injuries of their own, but Evans insists he has plenty more in the tank as he looks to get back on the pitch.

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“No, retirement never crossed my mind. Not once," he said.

“My injury wasn’t as bad as Stuart's – he had a complicated injury, which was dreadful for him. Davo had a similar injury as me but he had complications during his recovery.

“Mine was a straight ACL tear. I was always confident I would get back to my level again, it was just a matter of being patient.

“My knee is in a good place now and I still feel I’ve a lot to give, both for my country and for a club. We will see what the next few years hold, but I’m confident there is more to come.”

While he searches for a club after being released by Sunderland, Evans is preparing for his Northern Ireland comeback after being included by Michael O'Neill for the upcoming friendlies against Spain and Andorra.

Asked if he thought injury would derail his international ambitions, he said: “No, I never thought that I wouldn’t get the chance to play for Northern Ireland again. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t thinking about international football.

"My aim was to get back to playing for my club, and if you do that Northern Ireland will follow. I was always confident that if I got back to playing club football, I’d get back in the Northern Ireland squad.

“And that’s what happened. I’ve missed a couple of years and in that time the squad has changed a lot. I’m looking forward to playing with the new lads, because there’s some exciting talent there.”

Evans admits he "feared the worst" when club doctors told him he had ruptured his ACL, after initially believing he had sustained minor ligament damage on the outside of his knee.

He recalls: "I spoke to Michael (O'Neill). We were going to meet up and go for a bite to eat. Initially I thought I'd done a ligament on the outside of my leg, that's where the pain was.

"I remember going up to see him with Trai (Hume) up in the (Sunderland) boardroom and we were just chatting away. I just told him I'd probably need a scan tomorrow and he told me to go ahead and crack on, that he'd shoot off.

"There was no thought of ACL, that wasn't mentioned. The physios probably thought it, but they didn't tell me.

"It wasn't until the next day that I went for the scan and it came back and it was the ACL. I was shocked when I was told it was a rupture of the ACL."

He added: "When I heard the news I was shocked. It's part of football. A lot of lads have gone through it and it'll probably make me stronger. I can help boys going through it."

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