JAMES Beattie faces an anxious wait to discover if Sheffield United will prolong his stay at Bramall Lane.
The former England striker, who recently returned to South Yorkshire following an injury plagued spell at Glasgow Rangers, has been told he must make a first-team appearance before his short-term contract expires next month to enhance his chances of earning an extended deal.
But, should Beattie fail to force himself into contention, manager Danny Wilson has yet to decide the League One club’s next move.
“We’ve not even discussed what might or might not happen if James has played for us by that time,” Wilson told The Star. “It’s not something that we’re even thinking about at this stage.
“But of course it’s fair to say that - and James would agree with this - we really do need to see him in action before considering something more permanent. We’ll cross that bridge if we have to.”
Third-placed United entertain Notts County tomorrow (kick-off 2.15pm) looking to secure their seventh straight victory.
Wilson had hoped to select Beattie for the recent FA Cup tie against Torquay but was forced to revise those plans when the 33-year-old, already struggling with a calf problem, suffered a stomach upset on the eve of the game.
Beattie, who was released by the SPL champions in August, averaged a goal every 1.9 games, having first arrived at United in 2007.
“We’re trying to get James running properly and at full pace,” Wilson said. “However, it’s all a case of how hard we can push him because there’s no point in going full pelt and then having him break down.”
With United facing Hartlepool on New Year’s Eve (1pm) before travelling to Carlisle on January 2nd, Johannes Ertl is also hoping to enjoy a prominent role over the festive period after recovering from knee ligament damage.
The Austrian utility man, who suffered no ill effects from his outing at Bournemouth, said: “I can slot in either at the back or in midfield so, hopefully, someone who can do that it going to be quite important with a lot of matches coming up.”