Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has defended his decision to rest Leon Clarke.
The former Bury and Sheffield Wednesday centre-forward missed last weekend’s victory over Peterborough after being troubled by an ankle problem in recent weeks.
Despite revealing Clarke was desperate to face Grant McCann’s side - “He’s been brave and shown real commitment” - Wilder explained why he decided to withdraw him from the firing line.
“Regarding Leon, we just felt it was a good opportunity for him to rest,” Wilder said. “He’s not being doing himself any justice. He stuck his hand up to be involved but we felt he’s not being doing himself any justice coming into a new club and I don’t think that’s fair on him.
“Like I say, he wanted to be involved which showed great attitude. But we want him to be 100 per cent.”
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Clarke became only the 29th player to represent both Steel City clubs when he joined United two months ago. Wilder confirmed the 31-year-old had been troubled by the injury “for a few weeks now” but could return to action against leaders Scunthorpe on Saturday. Medical staff at Bramall Lane are set to prescribe a course of treatment before United’s visit to Glanford Park where they will hope to record their fifth consecutive League One win.
“He’s wearing a boot at the moment and we’re talking about maybe him having an injection to settle things down,” Wilder added. “Hopefully he’ll be ready for the weekend. It’s one of those things when rest really is the best thing for it. So that’s what he’s been getting even though I know he was ready to go out there and help the lads.
Clarke, who scored 18 goals in 37 appearances for Bury last season, has featured in all but two of United’s outings so far this term. He signed a three year contract after leaving Gigg Lane in July.
“We all know what Leon can do and that he’s going to be an important player for us going forward. So that’s why we think this was the best thing to do.”