Jonny Evans accepts Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill will have suitors

first_imgJonny Evans is desperate for Michael O’Neill to commit his future to Northern Ireland, but believes he has the qualities to succeed in the Barclays Premier League. Discussions are under way on a new deal but O’Neill’s profile is on the rise and a strong showing in France next summer would surely see the suitors lining up at Windsor Avenue. “I think it’s something that will be talked about,” admitted Evans. “It would be sad for us as players if it got to a situation where he wasn’t here. We’d all love to see him stay on. “We know how much he puts into that so he deserves what he’s got.” Asked if the 46-year-old could be just as successful in English football, Evans said: “Yes, I think so. “What I like about him is he won’t just settle for what’s there, he’ll try to improve. The fact is he’s only with us for 10 days at a time and has improved us as players, as a team, as individuals. “If he got hold of a team on a regular basis he would no doubt improve them. “His style of coaching is based around thinking about the game, not just running the legs off the lads. “I could sit down and talk football for hours with him. “He’s a real thinker of the game, which I like, and he looks at things from different angles. I like the way he wants his teams to play. “Michael’s made us successful by the way he wants to play – taking the game to the opposition. We’ve scored goals, we’ve kept clean sheets. “He gets everyone playing for him and his tactical understanding is fantastic.” Evans is due to return to the starting XI for Friday night’s friendly against Latvia. Injury meant he missed the famous night at Windsor Park last month when victory over Greece sealed a first major tournament in 30 years, and the subsequent lap of honour in Finland. But he was still with the squad in Belfast for the build-up and is still coming to terms with an achievement many thought would never come. “It was frustrating from a personal level but putting those feelings aside it was such a big night for the country, for the team, for the manager…I was just so excited for the game, the whole of Northern Ireland was,” he added. “There’s a much bigger prize at stake than my own personal achievements. I’m just glad as a country we’re able to go to France and represent the country.” Despite topping their qualifying pool Northern Ireland will be among the bottom seeds for the draw on December 12, meaning a tough group is virtually guaranteed. But for Evans, who made his international debut in the remarkable 3-2 win over Spain in 2006, it’s a case of the bigger the better. “Once the play-offs are through maybe I’ll think about it…there’s always talk of who we’re going to get,” he said. “But we’ve always seemed to do well against the big countries. “On such a big stage maybe it would be nice to get one of the big boys and see how we do. It would make for a great occasion.” Having played the majority of his career under the peerless Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Evans has a high bar to measure against. And the West Brom defender is full of praise for O’Neill, who took his side from fifth seeds to a first ever European Championship next summer. Press Associationlast_img read more

Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 59-45 win over Pittsburgh

first_imgAfter going into double overtime with then-No. 23 Florida State in its last matchup, Syracuse (13-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast) struggled to get much going early against Pittsburgh (8-11, 0-6). The teams combined to shoot just 38 percent in the first half as the Orange went into the break with a five-point advantage. Syracuse eventually managed to pull away late for a 59-45 win to snap its four-game losing streak.  Here are three reactions from the game.Feel it stillTyus Battle played a season-high 50 minutes in the Orange’s loss to the Seminoles. The game actually pushed his minutes per game average in ACC play to 41.2 — more than the standard 40-minute game.TV broadcasts claimed that Battle was under the weather heading into the game. Either way, Battle was noticeably a bit weaker to start Tuesday‘s game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textOn one play he made a move to drive baseline, but his floater weakly fell off the side of the backboard, not even reaching the rim. Later, he had a wide-open look from deep. His 3-point attempt was on line but not strong enough, barely grazing the front of the rim and falling straight down. He missed his first six shots of the game and entered the break with just four points.Halftime seemed to get Battle a little bit back on track. He was five-of-eight from the field and scored seven points in the frame. His 3-pointer out of the under-eight media timeout seemed to inject life in the Orange, which went on to open up a 10-point edge.How longFreshman Panthers guard Parker Stewart came into the game averaging just 7.4 points per game, the fifth-highest mark on the team. He’d hit 30 3-pointers in 18 games, shooting at a 36 percent clip.Stewart hit two 3-pointers within the first five minutes of the game. By the end of the night, Stewart accounted for more than half of Pitt’s offense by himself, as he knocked down seven 3-pointers and had 23 points, both career highs.Although Syracuse has been solid on defense for most of the season, this was the third time that one player has made at seven 3-pointers in a game against the Orange.New rulesThrough the first four games of ACC play, freshman point guard Howard Washington was averaging two minutes per game. It seemed like his only way on the floor was to provide a very quick breather to Howard or Battle, or if either one was in foul trouble.But against FSU he played a career-high 24 minutes and Syracuse deployed its three-guard lineup for a good chunk of the first half.On Tuesday, Washington again checked into the game early in the first half, replacing Tyus Battle who sat for a few minutes. When Battle came back, Washington stayed on, with SU again giving its three-guard lineup a look.The Orange scored five quick points when Washington was in, and the Buffalo native added two steals. But the offense stalled with the three-guard lineup in, scoring no points. On one play, it appeared that both Howard and SU head coach Jim Boeheim were frustrated with Oshae Brissett not getting into the high post properly.Washington was subbed out with 7:22 left in the first half and didn’t play the rest of the game. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 16, 2018 at 11:09 pm Contact Tomer: | @tomer_langerlast_img read more