Dean Smith turns to ‘big influence’ Jonny Evans to help Leicester’s survival bid

Boss Dean Smith is prepared to rely on Jonny Evans again in Leicester’s desperate last-gasp survival bid.

The defender made his first Premier League start in seven months in Monday’s 3-0 defeat to Liverpool following an injury-hit season.

He could start in Monday’s trip to Newcastle, which Leicester will need to win to survive after Everton drew with Wolves and if Nottingham Forest avoid defeat against Arsenal on Saturday.

Evans was preferred ahead of £15million January signing Harry Souttar and Smith is ready to turn to the former Manchester United man again.

“He is a really big influence and he did alright the other night. There was no gamble from us putting him in,” he said.

“He’d had four weeks training and some 11 v 11 minutes in training as well so we had no doubts about that.

“We’d have been guided by Jonny if he’d had any doubts but he’s a top professional, really good player.

“So, possibly (we would not be in this mess) but I don’t know as I wasn’t here. From what I’ve seen I’d have liked to have him for all eight games.

“All his career he has been in the Premier League. From what I’ve found of him so far, he’s a really affable character but a leader the others will want to follow as well. So in terms of the experience he’s probably been missed.”

Evans, from his time at West Brom, and Jamie Vardy – following the Foxes’ Great Escape in 2015 – have Premier League relegation battle experience in the squad.

Smith also guided Aston Villa to safety in 2020 and believes any knowhow to help them survive is crucial.

He said: “The experience you have in the dressing room you use to the best of your abilities. Shakey (Craig Shakespeare, assistant) was here when Leicester stayed up before so I’m leaning on him, I’ve had the same with Aston Villa.

“All that experience we have to give to the players and help them.”