London: Sheffield United should "think really long and hard" before they decide whether to allow convicted rapist Ched Evans to play for them again, Britain`s deputy prime minister and Sheffield MP Nick Clegg said on Thursday.
Clegg, speaking to LBC Radio the day before Evans was due to be released from prison on Friday, said: "He has done his time but I just don`t believe that the owners of a football club can somehow wish away the fact that that has happened.
"That is what he will be known for, and that is something which, particularly for the youngsters following that team, they will always be aware of."
Evans, 25, who has also played for Manchester City and is a Wales international, was convicted in 2012 of raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room. He is due to be released on Friday having served half of a five-year sentence.
More than 145,000 people have signed a petition against his possible comeback for the Blades, once one of the biggest clubs in England but who currently play in League One (third tier).
Manager Nigel Clough said earlier this week the club have yet to decide what to do but that any decision would be made "above football level".
"We have had one or two discussions, we are awaiting a decision and the owners will make that in good time," Clough said at his pre-match news conference before their match at Bradford City on Saturday.
He continued: "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.
"It`s my decision whether to put him in the team if he comes back, it`s not my decision whether he comes back in the first place -- that`s theirs. Until the decision is made there is no point talking about it."