Sheffield United could spring a major shock by naming Matt Done in the squad which visits Old Trafford this weekend.
The former Rochdale centre-forward had been expected to miss the FA Cup third round tie against Manchester United after injuring a hamstring during a League One fixture last month.
But Nigel Adkins told The Star: “Matt, we’d like to think, is not going to be out for long. That’s a positive. “He’s our running now. Whether or not Manchester United comes too soon I don’t know but he will be desperate to be involved and play. That I’m sure of.”
Done, who has scored 12 times in 25 starts since joining United nearly a year ago, has surprised medical staff at the Steelphalt Academy by making rapid progress in his battle for fitness. The 27-year-old was substituted after only 26 minutes of the recent victory over Bradford City but, together with fellow striker Billy Sharp, could emerge as a key figure in Adkins’ plan to topple Louis van Gaal’s side given his energy and quick turn of pace.
“Matt isn’t a serious as we first feared,” Adkins, the United manager, continued. “He’s coming on, fingers crossed, very well but we won’t push him or takes any risks because that would be counter-productive.”
Done, previously of Barnsley, Hibernian and Wrexham, was tasked with partnering Sharp when Adkins unveiled United’s new tactical template last month. With the 50-year-old expressing concerns about the number of goals his team were conceding, coaching staff devised a new look formation designed to strengthen United’s back four, knowing the two players’ work-rate meant it would not compromise their attacking threat. The ploy reaped instant rewards with United recording four consecutive wins in all competitions before being beaten 3-2 by Peterborough on Saturday.
Although Sharp, their leading goalscorer this term, has featured in only three of United’s seven cup outings since August, Adkins will be tempted to utilise him against van Gaal’s team. Especially after vowing to try and ask questions of the Premier League club’s rearguard.
“Billy has come in and he’s carried on the run of scoring in four back to back games,” Adkins said. “We’ve got keep strong in our resolve. It was the wrong scoreline but there was some good football played.”