Shaun Miller’s return from injury can inject fresh impetus into Sheffield United’s season, according to former team-mate Danny Higginbotham.
Miller, who suffered a cruciate ligament injury on Boxing Day of last year during a 3-0 win over Scunthorpe United, is nearing a full comeback after 10 months out of the game and has made two substitute appearances so far this term.
The 26-year-old frontman played 90 minutes for United’s development side earlier this week, netting twice in a 3-2 defeat to Birmingham City, and will again be in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Shrewsbury.
Miller’s injury meant that Higginbotham, who made 18 appearances in his spell with United after joining in January of this year, never lined up in the same side as the diminutive former Crewe hitman.
Nevertheless, former Southampton and Stoke defender Higginbotham knows the talents that Miller possesses - and believes he can soon recapture the form that saw him net six goals in eight games before his injury.
“Shaun is a great professional,” Higginbotham, now of Chester, said.
“Unfortunately, due to his injury, I didn’t get to see too much of him. But I went through a similar cruciate problem, and he worked very hard with his rehab so all credit to him for that.
“If we can recapture the form he was in before his injury, then it will be like a new signing for the club.”
Higginbotham, who turns 35 in December, joined Conference side Chester after leaving United by mutual consent in August.
“My time at Bramall Lane didn’t go as well as I wanted it to, obviously,” he said.
“It’s a great club, and I thought I could make a difference. But as soon as David Weir came in, I knew my time was up and I appreciate that.
“I didn’t want to have my last year or two in the game sat on the bench, and I didn’t want to stay and just pick my money up.
“I wanted to enjoy my last year or two playing football, and the challenge of keeping Chester in the Conference is one I am sure I will enjoy.
“I feel as though I should have been given an opportunity under David, but he had his plans and I respected that.
“As soon as I felt like I wouldn’t be involved at United, I knew that the time was right to move on
That’s football; I have no problem with David or United, and I wish them all the very best for the future.”
Under new boss Nigel Clough, who announced the loan capture of Leeds United’s Aidy White earlier this week, United registered only their third win of the season last weekend against Port Vale, and travel to Shrewsbury 20th in the League One table.
“I don’t know Nigel too well,” Higginbotham continued, “but what I have heard from people is that he is a good, no-nonsense manager.
“United have a good squad, there is just a void of confidence at the minute, which is a massive thing in football.
“Pre-season went well, and I expected a strong start to the season, but I think the playing style changing drastically didn’t help.
“But that win at the weekend can hopefully help them kick on, because there is no doubt that the ability is there.
“Many would consider it a stronger squad than last season, so I have no doubt that they can turn it around.”
Clough, who has captured White from Elland Road until January 1, also saw Mark Howard, Darryl Westlake, Terry Kennedy, Sean McGinty and Jamie Murphy all complete 90 minutes of the U21 Premier League cup fixture against Birmingham at Bramall Lane.