Sheffield United: Blades boss throws down the gauntlet

Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has challenged Jay McEveley and Iain Turner to earn places in his starting eleven, writes James Shield.

The two players were unveiled at the Redtooth Academy yesterday after signing 12 and six month contracts ahead of this afternoon’s visit to Coventry City.

Dismissing claims they have been signed to provide cover for Bob Harris and Mark Howard - “That’s not the case at all” - Clough told The Star: “With the experience they’ve got and the level they’ve played at then it would be unfair to call them that. In any case, it would be wrong.

“As soon as they get up to speed, then both of them will be in a position to give it a real go. I don’t think either have come here just to sit on the bench and we wouldn’t want them to have that attitude either.”

McEveley, aged 29, started his career with Blackburn Rovers before enjoying a spell under Clough at Derbty County. Capped three times by Scotland, the defender has spent the past two years representing Swindon Town.

Turner, the former Everton, Barnsley and Preston North End goalkeeper, is expected to deputise for Mark Howard at Sixfields Stadium.

“We know Jay well and, if it’s a choice between signing someone we don’t know and one we do, then we’ll always choose the latter,” Clough said. “That limits the risk inherent in any deal.”

United’s second outing of the League One season - they were beaten 2-1 by Bristol City last weekend - could pit them against Shaun Miller who joined Steven Pressley’s side after leaving Bramall Lane three months ago. The centre-forward ruptured ligaments in a knee during his spell with United but recovered the score the winning goal during their FA Cup replay at Fulham earlier this year.

“Shaun was unlucky here but he will always be remembered for scoring one of last season’s most important goals,” Clough, whose team went on the reach the semi-finals, said. “We thought long and hard about letting him go but Marc McNulty is a similar player and Shaun probably needed a fresh start.

“But we wish Shaun all the best and hope he does really well. Apart from against us of course.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1