Iain Turner, the Sheffield United goalkeeper, is expected to keep his place for this weekend’s visit of Coventry City after Blades boss Nigel Clough confirmed that number one Mark Howard is ‘unlikely’ to play.
Howard aggravated a back injury in the warm-up before United’s 4-1 win over Colchester last Tuesday and Turner, formerly of Everton, has deputised admirably in the three games since.
Clough confirmed, in the aftermath of Tuesday night’s 2-1 victory at Notts County, that Howard, Ryan Flynn and Michael Higdon were all unlikely to recover in time for Saturday’s home game against Coventry: “We don’t think any of them will be ready for the weekend,” he said.
“We can’t rule anything out because they’re all making progress, but it’s likely that we’ll be without them again.
“We don’t want to put them in unless they’re ready.”
And if not, Clough will not think twice about playing experienced ‘keeper Turner between the sticks as his side seek their fourth straight league win.
“Iain is a good professional and it shows,” the United boss added.
“He’s had one save to make [at Notts County] but it was a good one and a very important one given the context of the game. If they’ve have gone ahead, 2-1 up, it might have been different.
“It certainly would have been a lot harder. Iain is always ready and he’s been patient. But he’s always prepared to play.”
Turner’s signing enabled Clough to send George Long out on loan to Motherwell: “When you come in and know you might have to be patient, that can be difficult for a young goalkeeper,” Clough said.
“But with regards to George, we wanted to get him out and playing some games because we rate him highly, too, and that’s the best thing for his development in the long-term.”
Chris Basham goes into Saturday’s clash with Coventry walking a discipline tightrope, as one more booking - before the cut-off point in April - will trigger an automatic two-game suspension.
“We know Bash is on nine bookings and if he gets ten, which is very possible, then we’ll lose him for two games.
“So then it will be Terry [Kennedy] and Jay [McEveley] together at centre-half.
“That’s why we didn’t take a chance with Jay at Notts County, because we’ve got to try and plan for every eventuality. They’re all important players for us. It’s where you have to use your squad.”
“It’s been pleasing to start scoring more goals recently,” Clough added.
“We’ve been getting those crosses in the box but now we’re getting people on the end of them. That’s been the difference.”