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Rhys earns his keep
Rhys Evans has solved Stuart McCall’s goalkeeper hunt after convincing the City chief with his wonder show against Burnley.
Evans lines up against Oldham at Valley Parade in tomorrow’s final friendly safe in the knowledge that he will be the official number one.
The former England under-21 international is set to sign a one-year deal after spending the last fortnight on trial at the club.
The eighth summer signing, his arrival will be the final piece of the jigsaw as kick-off approaches.
Evans clinched his contract by performing heroics against the Clarets in midweek, bouncing back to form after struggling in the 4-0 loss at Motherwell last weekend.
He admitted that Scotland had been tough.
He said: “I felt really tired and lethargic, mentally and physically, and that came across on Saturday. I was really disappointed after the game and we talked about it.
“I knew I was fatigued more than anything else. I’d done a lot of travelling and not had as much training under my belt as the others.
“But I tried to calm myself down over the last couple of days. I hadn’t turned into a bad goalkeeper overnight and just needed to balance things out in my head.
“Maybe Saturday was a watershed for me because it highlighted what I needed to do. It is difficult to try and get yourself ready for the season and at the same time look to impress.”
Evans pulled off a string of big saves to deny Burnley and his outstanding display was highlighted afterwards by Clarets boss Owen Coyle. The 26-year-old was happy just to get his own form back on track.
“It was a big relief to have a good game. There were still a couple of things I could have done better but I felt more on the way to where I want to be.
“It was a sign that everything has started to come together.
“I’d also like to think that performance was not some flash in the pan. I’ve set my standard now and hopefully I can match that if I’m picked to play against Oldham.
“We’re building up to the season as a team and acquitted ourselves well against a Championship club the other night.
"There was no disgrace in the result and any fan will have come away in a positive frame of mind.”
McCall is confident that Evans, who will be backed up by young Scottish prospect Jon McLaughlin, can do the job.
He said: “Rhys looked a little bit rusty when we took him up to Scotland but he had done well in training up to then.
“And anyone who went to the Burnley game saw the qualities of Rhys. He was excellent and I hope he carries that on.
“I wanted a more experienced keeper who had played a bit, and Rhys has the advantage of being here before.
"I was a bit surprised he wasn’t offered anything by Millwall after playing regularly last season. But I spoke to their manager and the goalkeeping coach and both recommended him to us.”
McCall’s only remaining task now is to find some competition to push right back Paul Arnison.
Trialists Sean Densmore and Milton Turner have been released and he will scour for a youngster from the Premier League.
Meanwhile, City will field a powerful line-up against Oldham with Kyle Nix and Joe Colbeck both due to return. Lee Bullock could also be in the running.
McCall added: “We got a lot out of Wednesday’s game and tomorrow is equally important.
“We’re playing another team from a higher division and Oldham like to knock the ball around so it should be good.”
Only the Sunwin Stand will be open for home fans.