Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, last night expressed frustration at the litany of injuries which have wrecked his attempts to name a settled starting eleven.
The former Scunthorpe and Southampton chief has attempted to strike a placatory tone about the poor fitness record of Bramall Lane’s first team squad since taking charge of the League One club in June.
But, outlining the reasons behind Stefan Scougall’s recent loan move to Fleetwood Town, Adkins acknowledged steps must be taken to ensure the problem does not overshadow future campaigns.
“I’m not pointing the finger at individuals,” he said. “Because, yes, injuries happen.
“We’ve loaned players out to try and get them up games. Kieron Freeman was one but he’s back at the training ground now (from Portsmouth) because he’s injured. Bob Harris was injured so he went to Fleetwood to get some football and now, unfortunately, he’s injured again. We allowed James Wallace to go to Shrewsbury so he could play and get minutes under his belt. He’s injured.”
MORE BLADES NEWS
United, 12th in the table with nine matches remaining, were beaten at Millwall last weekend. With on-loan defender Alex Baptiste limping-out of the game with a suspected hamstring complaint, the knowledge that results elsewhere meant his team had passed-up another opportunity to edge closer to the top six only served to increase Adkins’ sense of grievance.
United, who return to action against Crewe Alexandra on Friday, yesterday scheduled their pre-match media conference for this afternoon; more than 72 hours before the meeting with Steve Davis’ side. Although it remains unclear whether the timing has been influenced by former striker Ched Evans’ appeal against his conviction for rape in 2012 - the matter is being heard by the Court of Appeal this morning - it will almost certainly Adkins’ briefing is not dominated by questions about the 27-year-old.
Scougall is set to spend a month at Highbury and Adkins, who suspects the bloated squad he inherited during the close season was partly a symptom of United’s injury issues, said: “My mindset is trying to get people up to speed, getting games, for the matches we’ve got left and also considering the play-offs.”