Goalkeeper Howard won’t be risked, says United boss

Mark Howard
Mark Howard

Sheffield United goalkeeper Mark Howard will not be risked for Saturday’s home game against Crewe unless he is 100 per cent fit, manager Nigel Clough has confirmed.

Howard missed Tuesday night’s 4-0 win over Scunthorpe after suffering a recurrance of his long-standing back injury, which has limited his appearances between the posts in recent weeks.

“Backs are very fragile,” Clough said.

“But Mark’s isn’t too bad, thankfully. It’s just muscle related.

“We’re thinking he might be back for Saturday, if not it’ll be Barnsley the following Saturday. But in any case, we won’t risk him if he’s still sore.”

That would mean an extended run in the side for back-up goalkeeper Iain Turner, who kept his second clean sheet in 13 United appearances against Mark Robins’ Iron on Tuesday.

“The plan is for Mark to get some rest for his back in the summer, and get it sorted,” Clough added.

“At this stage of the season it’s always a patching-up job with things like this. Can we get him out for a few games and then hope that it won’t seize up again? We won’t take any unnecessary risks but at the same time, we’re going all out to make sure we make the top six.”

Clough admitted he isn’t “desperate” to bring anyone else in on loan ahead of the emergency deadline, which passes today.

“There’s a good chance we’ll not do anything,” the United boss said.

“The lads are playing well currently, and Jay McEveley is on the way back; Stefan Scougall and Terry Kennedy played in a behind-closed-doors friendly yesterday and James Wallace and Michael Higdon aren’t far away.

“Add those players in, with Louis Reed coming back, too, from England U18 duty, that gives us 24 players, which is enough.

“You can never tell if you’ll get an injury or anything but we’ve been knocked back generally so far.

“The lads here are reasonably fit and the ones coming back will give us that extra that we need.”