Ched Evans
Convicted rapist Ched Evans used to play football for Sheffield UnitedGetty

Convicted rapist and former Sheffield United player Ched Evans could play football abroad, according to Nick Clegg.

"Maybe [Evans] could play for a club abroad for a while, before coming back," the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Clegg, who made the comments during a phone-in with LBC Radio after a caller suggested Evans may lose his livelihood, also reaffirmed his position that Sheffield United need to think "long and hard" about re-signing Evans.

"It's a decision for the club – that's what I've always been very careful to say that they've got think long and hard about whether they take him on," the Sheffield MP said.

"If it was my personal decision, I think, because of the role model that footballers are at the moment, I wouldn't do it.

"But they've got to make their own decision – they've got to justify it."

He had previously told ITV News that footballers are not "just any old employees", but they are also "role models for young people".

"He (Evans) committed a very serious offence," Clegg said.

Evans was convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman at a hotel near Rhyl, on the north east coast of Wales, in May 2011.

The football was sentenced to five years imprisonment in 20 April 2012 and was released on 17 October 2014.

Evans has maintained his innocence and released a YouTube video after he left prison apologising for his infidelity, while vowing to clear his name.

"Since that night I have constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that has been done on so many fronts because of it," he said.

"Even though I have been released from prison I am determined to continue the fight to clear my name and it is public knowledge that an application to refer my case back to the Court of Appeal has recently been submitted to the Criminal Case Review Commission by my lawyers."

It was recently revealed that Sheffield United will allow Evans, a 25-year-old former Wales international, to train with them.

News of the player's potential return for the League One club prompted an outcry and a petition demanding the club do not re-sign him attracted 157,000 signatures.

Although the club is yet to hand the player a new contract, allowing him to train will be seen as the first step on the road back to playing for the Blades.

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough had said any decision to recall Evans would be left to the club's owners.

"We have had one or two discussions, we are awaiting a decision and the owners will make that in good time," Clough said.

"I have been involved in decisions but it is very much a decision for the owners and when the time is right to say something as a club we will do that. It is that sort of decision – it's above football level."