Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has told players on the periphery of his starting eleven that they can still force themselves back into the League One leaders’ team.
Wilder was speaking after Marc McNulty, Stefan Scougall and James Wilson all completed 90 minutes of a behind-closed-doors friendly against Rotherham earlier this week.
Leon Clarke, who has missed huge chunks of the season through injury, completed an hour of the match as he continues his battle for full fitness.
“(Harry) Chapman, McNulty, Scougall, Wilson all played 90 minutes which is good,” Wilder said. “Leon played 60, and all came through that game.
“We have a fully-fit squad and can’t ask for anything more at this stage of the season. They are all fit and wanting to get into the team, have a great attitude to the game and in training.”
Scougall and McNulty are both out of contract at the end of the season and, with United six points clear of second-placed Bolton Wanderers, will be hoping for more exposure during the club’s remaining eight fixtures. Wilson, who left Oldham Athletic last term, has also enjoyed precious little game-time of late.
Wilder, whose side travel to Wilson’s former club on Saturday, added: “Without being arrogant, players have got two choices: they are either in or they are out. These players are in.
It’s disappointing for players not in the side, I totally understand that, we have all been through it as professional footballers.
“But they all have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by having a good attitude. Regardless of this period, if you have a good attitude as a player you give yourself half a chance to have a career.
“If you haven’t, then there will always be a question mark over it. Whether those players are here next year, or go, the phone always goes asking what they are like. I would ring myself up - or (assistant) Alan Knill - because I know you are going to get an honest answer.”