Convicted rapist Ched Evans is hoping that he will play for Wales against England at Euro 2016 as an appeal against his conviction is set to go ahead this week. The former Wales striker – who has13 caps and one goal to his name – was handed a five-year prison term in 2012 for raping a 19-year-old in a hotel room.
The 27-year-old from St Asaph, Denbighshire, caused controversy following his release in November 2014 when he attempted to re-join Sheffield United. More than 150,000 people signed a petition to stop him playing for the club.
Sheffield-born London 2012 hero Jessica Ennis-Hill, who has a stand named after her at Sheffield United's home ground of Brammall Lane, threatened to end her relationship with the club. The Blades eventually decided to end their interest in the former Manchester City player.
Grimsby and Oldham also considered signing Evans but decided not to due to public pressure. But Evans has pleaded his innocence and an appeal against his rape conviction is set to be heard this week.
The Court of Appeal will decide to either uphold the conviction or quash the conviction entirely. The case was referred to the court by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The father-of-one has a legal team that are expected to make a series of new arguments. These include claims that officers did not follow proper procedures, the trial judge misdirected jurors and crucial CCTV evidence was missing.
If the conviction is quashed, Evans is hoping to return to football and could be considered for a recall to the Wales international set up. Wales are set to play England in the French city of Lens on 16 June.
A source told The Sun that Sheffield United will consider offering him a new deal if his conviction is overturned. They reportedly said: "Ched has been told that United will come in for him if he is cleared. He could be pulling his boots on in a few weeks. He has kept himself fit but hasn't played competitive football for several years so he'll take a while to get match fit.
"Euro 2016 might be a stretch but who knows? His dream is to play for Wales against England in the tournament. That would be a fairy-tale ending to a nightmare few years." His appeal will be heard on 22 March.