Chris Wilder does not believe Caolan Lavery will change his uncompromising approach despite suffering a horrific facial injury against Derby County last month.
The Sheffield Unitred centre-forward visited a specialist yesterday as part of his ongoing treatment to repair the cheekbone and eye socket he shattered during an accidental collision with Marcus Olsson.
Although the skill of surgeons at a local hospital and quick-thinking of team doctor Subhashis Basu ensured Lavery is unlikely to suffer any lasting physical damage, fears have been expressed the extent of his injuries could have psychological implications when he returns to action.
But, praising the Canadian’s “attitude and work ethic”, Wilder said: “Caolan gets bumps and bruises, he’s a committed player. He puts his body on the line and, with that, come some bad things. He won’t change through and I don’t want him to change. It was a ball that was honestly challenged for by two committed players.”
“He’ll still look to get stuck in and, like me, he knows this is a contact sport,” the United manager added. “Making contact isn’t something we like the players to do, it’s expected.”
News of Lavery’s lay-off - he is expected to be ruled-out for around two months - comes at a particularly inopportune moment for both the club and player himself. With Leon Clarke suspended and James Hanson nursing a hamstring complaint, new signing Clayton Donaldson is expected to be thrust straight into action when United visit Sunderland this weekend. After being used predominately as an impact player last term, Lavery also hoped to use the meeting with Derby to stake his claim for a starting role in Clarke’s absence.
Confirming reports the 24-year-old could have lost his sight had Dr Basu not spotted a build-up of pressure around Lavery’s right eye, Wilder told The Star: “The doctors are part of the team and they have important jobs to do. He’s been on the ball hasn’t he? If that happened on a park, on a Sunday morning, it might have come to a different scenario entirely. Him seeing what happened and being alert has enabled him to take a big decision.”
Lavery, who joined United from Sheffield Wednesday last summer, is scheduled to undergo another operation before continuing his rehabilitation at the Steelphalt Academy training complex. Depending upon Donaldson’s impact, his absence means the club could be forced to tweak the 3-5-2 system which has proved so effective since Wilder’s appointment 16 months ago.
“Caolan will go for an operation this week and be out for a while,” Wilder said. “If we have to alter the formation, or do things a little different, then that’s what we’ll do. Personally, when I saw him, I thought he’d be out for a lot longer.”