Nigel Clough has described the loss of James Wallace as a “devastating” blow despite quashing fears the midfielder will miss the rest of the League One season, writes James Shield.
Wallace, the former England under-20 international, has been absent since January 10 after suffering the latest in a long line of injuries which have stunted his progress following last summer’s move from Tranmere Rovers.
Widely regarded as being one of the most technically accomplished players outside of the top-flight, Wallace’s on-going fitness problems explain why Clough yesterday admitted he has yet to decide United’s best starting eleven despite passing the half-way point of the campaign.
But Clough, the United manager, said: “It’s not the end of the season for James although at one stage we thought it might be. He’s not too far away now but we won’t be playing him until he’s absolutely recovered and ready.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to get James out there for the last six or so weeks of the season. Then, with that under his belt, he’ll be able to report back for pre-season training in a completely different frame of mind.”
“Its devastating for James and also for everybody else,” Clough, who has signed Jason Holt on loan as cover, added. “He’s facing mental test as much as anything else because I know how much’s he’s hurting at not being able to get out there.
“If you’re talking about our best eleven then, yes, he’d probably be in it but he’s hardly been available.
“Until he is, because we’ve seen what quality James does bring, then it’s going to be impossible to know.”
United enter tonight’s game against Colchester seventh in the table and hoping Matt Done is declared available for selection after a slight ankle problem forced him to miss Saturday’s defeat at Gillingham.