Sheffield United’s hopes of consolidating their place in the Championship play-off positions are set to receive a further boost as Ched Evans closes-in on a return to first team action.
Evans, whose last start came against Norwich City four months ago, could travel to the return fixture at Carrow Road this weekend after recovering from the ankle injury which has kept him sidelined since September.
The 29-year-old scored on his return to action for United’s under-23’s earlier this week and, together with defender Kieron Freeman, is poised increase competition among a squad already bolstered by the recent arrival of Ricky Holmes, Ryan Leonard, Lee Evans and the on-loan James Wilson.
“They are both on the grass,” Chris Wilder, the United manager said. “Ched is back in full-time training with the rest of the lads, which is obviously great to see.
“He will need a couple of games to get going. But that’s good news, hopefully he will play some minutes in the under-23s or a behind-closed-doors game.
“I should imagine at the back end of the month, the same thing with Kieron. That’s two decent players which we though, at the start of the season, would push and complement the strong squad we have.”
Although Wilson’s presence at Bramall Lane means Evans his unlikely to be considered for selection against his former club, the centre-forward, who hit the target 10 times in 20 starts during a spell on loan with City at the beginning of his career, could appear on the team sheet when Preston North End visit Bramall Lane in the FA Cup next weekend.
United make the journey south sixth in the Championship table, despite winning only one of their last 10 league games.
“Ched has an important role to play for us,” Wilder said. “But, because of that, when he does come back we want to make sure he can go out there and really show what he’s all about.
“He’s determined to do well for this club and he will do. The fact he was prepared to put his hand up and play (earlier this season) even though he was in pain and wasn’t fit tells you all you need to know about his commitment because he knew we needed him.”
“Things like that,” Wilder added, “Are always a sign of someone’s character. Ched’s worked hard to get right.”