Wales head coach Gemma Grainger has praised Reading defender Gemma Evans ahead of her prospective move to Manchester United.
It was reported earlier this week that the Red Devils are close to snapping up the 26-year-old, whose contract with the Royals has expired. Asked to sum up the center-back’s abilities, Grainger said:
“The first day I met Gemma [Evans], the belief that I’ve had in her, for me she’s a world-class centre-half. You see her against [Marie-Antoinette] Katoto when we played France in our World Cup qualifying campaign. She and Hayley [Ladd] handled her and the rest of that French front line superbly.”
Wales face World Cup holders the United States in a pre-tournament friendly next month and United fans will be keeping a close eye on how Evans performs against top-class opponents.
Reading’s poor defensive record will raise some doubts about Evans
It should be pointed out that Evans was part of the second-worst defence in the Women’s Super League last season, as the Royals conceded 57 times in only 22 matches.
Their porous backline played a massive part in the team being relegated on the final day of the campaign. For that reason, there will be those that will doubt Evans’ ability to step up and perform for United.
Evans will have to fight hard to get matches at United
Manager Marc Skinner regularly picked Maya Le Tissier and Millie Turner as his favoured centre-back pairing last season, and Evans will have a battle on her hands to get game time.
United brought in Aissatou Tounkara from Atletico Madrid last year and the defender barely got a look in. With four competitions to play in next campaign, though, you would think that Evans will be given plenty of run-outs. Based on Grainger’s comments, she should possess the ability to make an impact when handed opportunities.