Swansea City manager Steve Cooper pinpointed the return of Jack Evans as the highlight of his team’s emphatic 6-0 thrashing of Cambridge United.
The Swans will travel to Watford for the third round of the Carabao Cup after their convincing win at the Liberty Stadium on Wednesday night, where Cooper brought on Evans for the final 17 minutes.
It was a poignant moment for the 21-year-old midfielder, and the club, as his debut appearance came just a year after he was given a cancer diagnosis.
After successful treatment, Evans was able to return to training in February – the start of a long road back that ended with his first appearance for the club last night.
“It was the best part of the evening in the grand scheme of things, let’s be honest,” said Cooper.
“The first thing I have to say is Jack came on and did well, which he would want to hear first and foremost because he is only interested in football.
“But it’s amazing. I am sure he was in a dark place not so long ago. So, to fight back through his recovery and into training and playing at home at the Liberty, I think everyone should be really proud of him, no more so than his family.
“We certainly are as a football club and there will be more to come from him.
“He’s an amazing man, so determined to do well. He demands the best of himself and even with the tough time he has been through his expectations are high and we will support him on that.
“Everyone should be proud of him tonight, particularly himself.
“It’s not a sentimental thing, we wanted to give him opportunity, but he would not want sentiment either.
“Like all young players, they are developing step by step. Jack has spent a lot of time training with the first team in the summer and got some good minutes.
“He picked up a knock when he was about to play in the Northampton game, but he had an opportunity tonight and if he keeps going we look forward to giving him a few more in the future.”
Cooper was also pleased with the extension of his unbeaten start in management at the club, which now extends to seven matches in all competitions.
A brace from Sam Surridge and goals from Kristoffer Peterson, George Byers and Jordan Garrick put Cooper’s side in complete control before the break.
It was a fine way for Swansea to warm up for Saturday’s top-of-the-table Championship clash with Leeds and Wayne Routledge completed the scoring in the second period.
For Garrick and Peterson, those were their first goals in Swansea colours, while there were first-team debuts for substitutes Jack Evans and Tivonge Rushesha.
Tom Carroll played 73 minutes as he made his first appearance in 10 months and Cooper added: “Obviously, it was a positive night.
“The main objective was to win the game, which we did, in what was a comfortable fashion.
“That was because we started well, we focused on starting well and scoring is the best outcome from that. We did that and it set the tone for the rest of the evening.
“Coming in 5-0 up at half-time was really pleasing, there were some simple messages about concentration, attitude and mentality to keep doing what we were doing well and we did that. It was a positive evening.”