Sheffield United centre-forwards Leon Clarke and Matt Done have thrust themselves into contention for Sunday’s derby against Chesterfield, Alan Knill confirmed last night.
The strikers made their long-awaited return from injury during the Checkatrade Trophy tie at Grimsby Town with Clarke scoring the visitors’ final goal of a 4-2 win.
With fellow striker Caolan Lavery also confirming his fitness by starting the match, manager Chris Wilder will enter this weekend’s League One fixture with a full compliment of attacking options at his disposal having previously expressed concerns about the depth of his squad.
Knill, Wilder’s assistant, revealed both Clarke and Done had both volunteered to take part despite only returning to full training this week.
“Full credit to them both, they’ve both put their hands up and told us they wanted to play,” he said. “Lavs had more minutes and so we go into our next one with potentially four strikers which we’ve not had all season. That’s a nice thing to have.”
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United travel to the Proact Stadium having scored 22 goals in their last six outings and Knill added: “It’s a strong squad but injuries take their toll. But when you have got a winning team with a winning mentality, players don’t want to be on the outside of that. They want to be a part of it. With them and Lavs, it’s brilliant to have them back.”
United defied the competition’s rules regarding team selection to hand Jordan Hallam, Joe Cummings and Regan Slater their senior debuts at Blundell Park. Lavery and Graham Kelly made their first starts for the club. Slater marked the occasion by scoring United’s equaliser after Kayden Jackson had fired Grimsby into a first-half lead.
Like Wilder, Knill expressed reservations about whether the competition should continue - “Leagues One and two are the teams with the smallest squads so let’s give them more games” - but acknowledged United’s youngsters had acquitted themselves well.
“They’ve come in and set the benchmark for their future careers going forward,” he said.
“I thought, like the rest of the lads, their attitude was superb.”