The Sheffield United striker was a rumoured January target for Sunderland.

The Fleetwood Town manager, Joey Barton has admitted he would like bring Ched Evans back to the club next season – but warned he could struggle to do so if Sunderland revisit their interest in the on-loan Sheffield United striker.

Evans has scored 16 goals in 37 games for Fleetwood this season and was a rumoured target for Sunderland in the January transfer window.

And the 30-year-old is one of several loan signings Barton is keen to keep.

“It will be on the finances. I don’t have a magic wand,” the Liverpudlian told the Blackpool Gazette when asked about a new deal for Evans.

“One side in our division (Sunderland) has spent more on agents’ fees than our entire budget. If they decide they want him there is nothing we can do about it. They were sniffing around him in January.

“He’s a great player, becoming a real leader in the dressing room. I’d love to have him but I say the same about Coyley (Lewie Coyle), Soutts (Harry Souttar), Jason Holt – great characters, who really added to our group.

“We are hoping they like it enough here that if they are not playing for their parent clubs in higher divisions they will be part of what we are trying to build at this football club.”

Evans has one year left on his contract at Sheffield United, who could be a Premier League club by the time he returns to Bramall Lane.

It is likely, therefore, that the Welshman will find himself surplus to the Blades’ requirements.

Whether or not Sunderland would act in such case remains to be seen, however, having paid several-million-pounds to sign another striker, Will Grigg, as an alternative to Evans on deadline day.

Could Sunderland return for the Sheffield United striker this summer?

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