Sheffield United: Leon Clarke closes-in on return

Leon Clarke (left) has been working hard behind the scenes �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved
Leon Clarke (left) has been working hard behind the scenes �2016 Sport Image all rights reserved
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Leon Clarke has made significant progress in his battle for full fitness, Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder revealed.

The centre-forward has missed the last five games after doctors discovered he had damaged a bone in his ankle and was recently spotted wearing a protective boot.

Chris Wilder (right) is looking forward to Leon Clarke's return. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder (right) is looking forward to Leon Clarke's return. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

But, speaking at United’s training ground this morning, Wilder said: “Leon is not a million miles off, he has been walking about in this boot.

“It’s been a difficult period for Leon, he came here as a big striker for us - in name and stature - and he was expected to be in and around the first team.

“I think it just goes to show how well the boys at the top of the pitch have done, carried on picking up points without Leon.

“When Leon is back, and (Caolan) Lavery, that certainly strengthens the top of the pitch for us. We hope he (Clarke) will be back at the back end of this month, or certainly going into November he will be fit and raring to go. He’s working extremely hard, and his recovery is going well.”

Clarke, aged 31, joined United during the close season after scoring 18 goals in 37 appearances for Bury last season. Although he will miss Saturday’s League One game against Port Vale, Wilder expects him to return “before the end of the month.” Caolan Lavery and Stefan Scougall are both available for the meeting with Bruno Ribeiro’s side but Chris Basham misses-out through suspension.

Wilder, assessing the possible implications of last weekend’s international break, said: “It was a good break, and we have tried to get the full benefit out of it - both players and staff - because it’s been a hectic start to the season.

“The players have trained extremely hard. Lavery is fit, (Stefan) Scougall got a bang, a couple of others have had bumps and bruises they have been carrying for a couple of weeks, so they have all cleared up.

“Apart from Leon, we have a full quota to pick from on Saturday. The players are raring to go for the next game, against a decent team who have a good points total so far.”