Welsh footballer Ched Evans has lost the first stage of his appeal against his rape conviction, his lawyers said.
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The 23-year-old striker was jailed for five years in April for raping a 19-year-old woman in a hotel room.
A spokesman for law firm Brabners Chaffe Street in Manchester said they had received notification from the Court of Appeal that the judge had refused Evans’ application for leave to appeal against his conviction.
The spokesman added: "We wish to confirm that Ched Evans continues to maintain his innocence in this matter and, as he is entitled to do so, he shall continue with his appeal to the full Court of Appeal where he believes that a comprehensive and objective analysis of the case will ultimately lead to his conviction being overturned."
Evans was found guilty of raping the woman at a hotel in North Wales last May by a jury at Caernarfon Crown Court.
He admitted having sex with her, but the woman told the jury that she had no memory of the incident – and the prosecution argued that she was too drunk to consent to sexual intercourse.
Port Vale defender Clayton McDonald, 23, who also admitted having sex with the victim, was found not guilty of the same charge.
Evans was released by Sheffield United at the end of last season.