Sheffield United: Blades place centre-halves under the microscope

Sheffield United defender Terry Kennedy in action earlier this season � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Sheffield United defender Terry Kennedy in action earlier this season � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Sheffield United will wait until the test results on Jay McEveley’s damaged shoulder are revealed before naming their team for tonight’s League One encounter with Scunthorpe, writes James Shield.

But Nigel Clough, the United manager, confirmed Terry Kennedy’s imminent return from injury, combined with John Brayford’s ability to deputise at centre-half, means there is “no pressing need” to enter the transfer market ahead of Thursday’s emergency loan deadline.

McEveley missed last weekend’s victory over Port Vale after requiring a series of pain-killing injections in his troublesome joint and Clough acknowledged: “We’re hoping for the same 18. We’ll see if we can do without Jay.

“If we can’t then he’ll be in. If not, then we’ll let him give his shoulder another rest.

“John Brayford started out as a centre-half so it’s not unusual for him. That was way back at Burton although he was a little too short to play there in the Conference.

“If Jay can’t come back in right away then it may well be that we keep him there for a bit.”

Kennedy has been absent since February 28th’s draw at Crawley Town but Clough confirmed: “We’re not desperate for a loan. Terry Kennedy is doing well and will hopefully play in a friendly (tomorrow).

“Then we can see how he is after that. Terry has been training and James Wallace did some stuff with the rest of the lads this week too so that’s excellent news.

“We’ll be looking to build them back up and take things from there.”

United were initially scheduled to host Scunthorpe on December 28 but the game was postponed because of snow.

They enter this evening’s contest in fifth, three points ahead of seventh-placed Barnsley and having played a game less than their rivals from Oakwell.

Scunthorpe, who held United to a 1-1 draw at Glanford Park less than a fortnight ago, are 17th.

Clough could also choose to again omit captain Michael Doyle from his starting eleven in a bid to ensure the former Republic of Ireland international avoids a two match ban under the totting-up procedure.

“We’ll try and protect Michael from suspension,” Clough said. “He’s only two away now and there’s a few more games to go before the cut-off point.

“We thought it was that type of game at the weekend where there were going to be a few bookings. It’s something that, at this stage, we’ve got to try and keep in mind.”

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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