The final decision on Leon Clarke’s involvement against Nottingham Forest could rest with the player himself, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has admitted, after insisting the centre-forward is “close” to returning from injury.
Clarke, United’s leading goalscorer in the Championship this term, has missed the last three games after tweaking a hamstring during last month’s victory over Reading.
Although the club accepted he would be forced to sit-out their game at Fulham, Wilder suggested Clarke was on the verge of a comeback before both the visit to Ipswich Town and Tuesday’s meeting with Burton Albion only for the 33-year-old to fail to appear.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Nottingham Forest, Wilder said: “Leon is close. We’ll sit down and have a chat. Leon knows his body better than anybody so of course he’ll be involved in that.”
Clarke has scored 15 goals in 31 appearances for United so far this term and, with United only two points behind sixth-placed Middlesbrough, welcoming him back would be a major boost the their play-off hopes.
However, the nature of his injury and possible consequences of forcing him back into action too soon has forced United to tread carefully.
“We’re hoping,” Wilder said. “We’d love to have him involved in the squad. We want everybody to be fit. He’ll definitely be okay after the international break.”