Stefan Scougall has probably collected more bruises than Gaetano Scirea did medals.
But Chris Wilder does not believe the Sheffield United midfielder can expect special protection from referees despite being targeted by League One hatchet men following his return to Bramall Lane’s first team squad.
“Scouggs gets smashed all the time,” Wilder, the United manager, said. “But players have to expect it and get on with it. The have to give out as much as they get. Competition is not just expected in this division. It’s demanded. Everyone is the same.”
Scougall, who stands less than 5ft 7in tall and scales only 8.9st, might be a featherweight in boxing terms. But, on the football pitch, he is capable of packing a heavyweight punch. The 23-year-old Scot, who was set to leave Bramall Lane until Wilder’s appointment in May, scored United’s second goal during their memorable FA Cup semi-final performance against Hull City two years ago and recently told The Star he can “give as good as I get” in 50/50 tackles.
Wilder’s refusal to adopt the same approach as Arsene Wenger - the Arsenal chief frequently argues flair players should be spared the physical excesses of the English game - underlines his faith in Scougall’s survival skills. Indeed, when United were subjected to a furious aerial bombardment during their closing stages of last weekend’s victory at AFC Wimbledon, Wilder summoned Scougall from the bench to help them see the game out.
“This is a tough competition and it’s a physical one too,” Wilder continued. “We’ve looked, I think, strong and fit all the way through the squad. We need to be if we are going to survive and be successful.”
Scougall, a former Scotland under-21 international, is set to make his ninth appearance of the season when Peterborough visit Bramall Lane on Saturday having featured in all but one of Wilder’s competitive fixtures since taking charge. United stretched their winning run in the competition to three games after triumphing 3-2 at Kingsmeadow stadium and Wilder said: “We’ve got to try and keep driving things on. Not settling for what we’ve done or got.”