Jose Baxter is expected to be accompanied by a senior member of Sheffield United’s staff when the Football Association concludes its investigation into the circumstances surrounding his positive drugs test, writes James Shield.
As The Star revealed on Wednesday, the former Everton and Oldham Athletic midfielder has been summoned to appear at the governing body’s Wembley HQ next week after traces of a prohibited substance, thought to be MDMA, were discovered in his system during an out-of-competition procedure.
Baxter, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing, was temporarily suspended by United when the result was announced and subsequently missed both legs of May’s League One play-off defeat by Swindon Town.
But he was present when the first team squad reported for training earlier this week.
Baxter, whose hearing is scheduled to take place on Friday, could be banned for up to six months if the FA fails to accept that he unknowingly ingested the drug.
However, sources within the game have also suggested he might simply be reprimanded which would allow him to resume work at the Redtooth Academy immediately. Likewise if any suspension imposed is backdated.
Given Baxter’s stance, officials at Bramall Lane are adamant they have duty of care towards an employee who emerged as a driving force behind their qualification for the end-of- season knockouts. The Professional Footballers’ Association pledged its support when the reason behind the 23-year-old’s absence at the County Ground became apparent.
Adkins, who was appointed as Nigel Clough’s successor nearly five weeks ago, spent last week overseeing training at a spa resort in the Midlands where preparations for the 2015/16 campaign began in earnest.
Lee Turnbull, United’s chief scout and head of recruitment, is being tasked with applying the finishing touches to Adkins’ recruitment plans.
Turnbull, who arrived from Scunthorpe a week ago, was responsible for delivering the likes of Gary Hooper and Martin Paterson to Glanford Park where Adkins achieved two promotions.
He joins Andy Crosby, Dean Wilkins, Darren Ward and Chris Morgan on United’s backroom staff.