Ched Evans
Evans' return to training at Sheffield United sparked a public outcry Getty Images

Hartlepool United has confirmed that convicted rapist Ched Evans will not join the club, despite manager Ronnie Moore expressing an interest in signing him.

Moore, who took over as the club's boss this week, described Evans as a "proven scorer" and said the controversial move was a "possibility".

"If there is a chance he might come here, I don't see any reason why he shouldn't," Moore said.

However, the club has now distanced itself from speculation that Evans, 25, could be signed as controversy mounted over the development.

"This story has emerged following an unsubstantiated internet rumour which the manager was asked to comment upon," Hartlepool said in a statement.

"This response was based upon the player's obvious ability as a footballer and as such, has then been headlined by the media without asking the club for their official position.

"After a highly positive week at Hartlepool United following the takeover by new owners and the appointment of a new manager, the owners are saddened by this unfortunate turn of events and wish to draw a line under it immediately."

Local MP Iain Wright, who called on Hartlepool to distance itself from the footballer, told Sky News: "We don't want convicted rapists for Pools. Rightly or wrongly, young lads and lasses see footballers as role models – they will look up to them.

"The particular crime he has been convicted of and served time in prison for is a particularly heinous one that no one should consider acceptable.

"I love my club – I've been a season ticket holder for years and I want it to promote the values of professionalism and making sure they can project the town's values."

Evans was released from prison in October after serving half of a five-year jail sentence for rape. He had an offer to train at his former club Sheffield United withdrawn following a public outcry. However, he has always maintained that he is innocent.

Following his release, Evans issued a video statement appealing for a "second chance" at a career in football.

He was criticised for failing to apologise to his victim, but the Professional Footballers' Association has said that the former Welsh international should be given the opportunity to play professionally again.