West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew has hailed defender Jonny Evans as a great player but is worried by the prospect of the 29-year-old Northern Ireland international leaving the Premier League club in the January transfer window.
The former Manchester United centre-back has been a key player for West Brom since he joined the club in 2015 and featured in 12 league games this campaign.
West Brom rejected multiple bids for Evans, whose contract expires in 2019, in the previous transfer window, including one from league leaders Manchester City, and Pardew fears that further offers could pave the way for his departure.
“I’m never confident when you’ve got great players because other clubs want great players, so your best players are always vulnerable,” Pardew told reporters on Thursday.
“Jonny Evans is definitely one of them and he is our captain. Do I want to lose him? Of course not. Do I fear losing him? Of course I do.”
Pardew was named West Brom manager last week with the club in 17th position and his first game in charge ended in a goalless draw with fellow strugglers Crystal Palace, helping the Baggies maintain a three-point gap above the relegation zone.
West Brom can widen that gap when they travel to bottom-side Swansea City on Saturday and Pardew has urged his team to grab a much-needed victory, saying that a minimum of nine more wins was needed to avoid relegation.
“A win would lift the confidence of the players. We’ve lost the least in the bottom eight or nine but we’ve drawn too many games,” Pardew added.
“We need to turn up on Saturday afternoon and we need to win the game. Football is about results. We need to win at least nine games. Hopefully after Saturday it’ll be eight.”