Corry Evans can fulfill his Premier League dream with Sunderland, insists Gary Bennett
Sunderland legend Gary Bennett insists Corry Evans has found the right club to join his brother Jonny in the Premier League.
he North-East giants are back in the league after a four-year hiatus in Ligue 1.
But expectations around Wearside are that they can make an immediate leap into the top flight, where they spent 10 seasons before relegation in 2017.
And it was Belfast man Evans – dubbed the team’s ‘silent heartbeat’ – who played a pivotal role in guiding them to a 15-game unbeaten streak before the League One play-off victory against Wycombe at Wembley.
“Credit must be given to the club for selling Corry a vision in Ligue 1 and also for taking the gamble,” said Bennett, who played more than 450 games for the Black Cats and appeared in the finals of the League. League Cup and FA Cup. for the club.
“I know one or two Championship clubs wanted him last season, but he saw the big picture. Now we are in the championship but we don’t want to stop there.
“Corry is on a mission, as are the club and his teammates. If he can bring this club back to the Premier League, it will be huge for his career and a huge tick on his CV.
“He has to look around the club, hear that 30,000 season tickets have been sold and know he’s part of something.
“You say he’s never played in the Premier League, well, to have that carrot at this point in your career and knowing that one more push could get there, that’s a fantastic incentive.”
Bennett believes Evans’ Championship experience will be crucial for the North East club to navigate the tricky waters of the second tier.
The 31-year-old midfielder, who received the captain’s armband midway through last season, played more than 250 league games during spells at Hull City and Blackburn Rovers.
Bennett added: “Corry came to Sunderland with a reputation for injury and he had some issues early on. It comes if you don’t have a good pre-season, but when Alex Neil took over his fortunes changed.
“Alex was looking for an experienced, calming figure and that’s what Corry brought to the club.
“Once he had more games under his belt, he gained confidence. He started taking games by the scruff of his neck.
“Giving him the captaincy was a smart decision and he accepted the responsibility that comes with it.
“This experience was important in Ligue 1 with the young people around him, but even more so now.
“He’s played a stack of games in the Championship and knows what it’s all about.”
Bennett, who is in the club’s Hall of Fame, says Sunderland is a vehicle through which Evans can achieve his footballing dreams, including elevation to the next level.
“With no disrespect to his former club Blackburn, this club is on a different level,” he continued.
“If he has to look back and compare, he would say it was the best decision of his career.
“Anyone who plays for Sunderland finds a home here. They fall in love with the club and its supporters.
“The fervor grows in you and you grow with it. It becomes a part of you.