Sheffield United: Chris Wilder rejects striker concerns as Leon Clarke struggles for Southend

Leon Clarke was injured against Northampton
Leon Clarke was injured against Northampton
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Leon Clarke remains a doubt for Sheffield United’s trip to Southend this weekend, manager Chris Wilder has revealed.

The former Bury striker missed Monday’s 3-1 win at Bury, which sent Wilder’s side three points clear at the top of League One, with an ankle knock he picked up on New Year’s Eve against Northampton Town.

And ahead of the trip to Roots Hall, Wilder said: “We’ll look at Leon, but he wasn’t okay for Bury and there’s a chance he won’t be okay for the weekend either.

“It’s actually quite a nasty one. We’ll have to see how it goes before we head to Southend.”

If Clarke is once again ruled out, the blow is softened somewhat by the good form of Caolan Lavery, who is starting to find his feet again since his move from city rivals Wednesday, Matt Done and Marc McNulty, who has been recalled early from his loan spell at Bradford.

Jake Wright, United’s young striker, scored twice in their 4-1 Under-23 victory at Rotherham United yesterday and Wilder said: “If Leon doesn’t make it, we have some good options there with Matty, Caolan and now Sparky too.

“That’s one of the reasons we brought him [McNulty] back. We have to do what’s best for this football club and make sure the numbers are right. He’ll get his opportunity.

“We’re pleased to have him back and he’s been really positive since coming back as well.”

Meanwhile, United’s academy chief Travis Binnion hailed his Blades U23 side after they dominated an experienced Millers side at Roundwood.

“We dominated from start to finish against senior opposition,” Binnion said.

“We were excellent throughout, we were aggressive, we pressed and we took our chances.

“We make demands of the players in these games and everyone applied themselves in a positive manner, which is pleasing.”

Wright’s brace put United 2-0 up against a Millers side including Kelvin Wilson, Peter Odemwingie and Dexter Blackstock, before an excellent David Brooks free-kick made it three.

Kelvin Wilson reduced the deficit four minutes later, but substitute Harvey Gilmour rounded off the victory with less than ten minutes left to extend United’s 100 per cent record in the Central League Cup.

Blades: Long, Bennett (Cummings 52), Mallon, Graham, Kelly, Semple, Slater, Reed (Gilmour 77), Wright (K. Smith 83), Brooks, Hallam (Hirst 71). Unused: Warhurst.