Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough admits he will have no worries fielding second-choice goalkeeper Iain Turner in Saturday’s crunch League One tie against leaders Bristol City, if Mark Howard fails to win his battle for fitness.
Howard was a late omission from the side which beat Colchester United 4-1 at Bramall Lane on Tuesday evening, after his back seized up during the pre-match warm-ups.
Turner took his place at short notice and made two important saves - including one from ex-Blade Chris Porter - to set up the victory, which moved United back into the play-off positions.
Turner also kept a clean sheet as United beat promotion-chasing Swindon 2-0 at Bramall Lane, and Clough revealed: “The back complaint is something Mark’s been carrying, as we know, for a while. But there are no nerves when we have to put Iain in.
“He’s been involved in our last two home league games and only let in one goal. He’s solid and we’re very lucky to have him.
“If Mark’s not okay for the weekend, or there are any doubts at all, then Iain will play. It’s as simple as that. He’s ready.
“That’s the good thing about Iain. He prepares, even if he’s not in the starting eleven, as if he was.
“Sometimes, with younger players, that’s not something you see. Like I said, he’s ready and he made some very good saves, including one from Chris Porter, which kept us in the game.”
Ryan Flynn is expected to once again miss out at Ashton Gate with an Achilles injury, but Michael Higdon may recover from a hamstring complaint in time. One player almost guaranteed a place in the side - even given Clough’s penchant for changes - is Paul Coutts, who delivered another commanding performance against Colchester following his transfer window move from Derby County.
Clough said: “He’s done well.
He’s been very solid but there’s more to come from him. We were interested in seeing the partnership between him and John Brayford because, at Derby, they had a good thing going.
“There was something similar between John and Ryan Flynn here last season.
“So we’d like to take a look at that [Coutts and Brayford] again. That’s something we always bear in mind when we go into the transfer market, partnerships.
“We think that’s important because, within the team unit and shape, we want those little partnerships right the way across the pitch.”
Clough also hopes fellow new signing Matt Done is fit for the weekend, after a goal on his debut against Colchester. “Strikers thrive on confidence,” Clough, himself a former frontman, said.
“So it was good to see him get off the mark straightaway.”