SHEFFIELD UNITED: Mark Howard makes progress

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SHEFFIELD United goalkeeper Mark Howard is poised to accelerate his rehabilitation from a muscle injury later this month, manager Danny Wilson has confirmed.

Howard, whose absence prompted the arrival of former Wales international Danny Coyne at Bramall Lane, returned to training ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup victory at Oxford after spending 13 weeks in the treatment room.

With United set to resume their Professional Development League programme today following its winter break, Wilson said: “Mark is doing well and he’s made real progress of late.

“He’s started to join in again with the rest of the lads and we’ve got some under-21 fixtures coming up so we expect him to be involved in those.

“Mark’s recovery has been overseen really well by the staff here and that will continue.

“Obviously we want him to be ready but we won’t be taking any unnecessary risks with him either because that would be completely counter productive.”

United’s Professional Development League team, coached by Chris Morgan and assistant Richard Cresswell, host Wigan Athletic at lunchtime before visiting Leeds.

Howard’s recovery, combined with the demands of Salary Cost Management Protocol, could have implications for Coyne’s hopes of remaining in South Yorkshire beyond the end of his short-term contract.

Wilson said: “Having Danny around has been brilliant. He’s a top class lad who has been exceptional with the other ‘keepers and a top class pro’ to boot.

“He understands the situation and we’ll see what we can do but we’ll always keep Danny abreast of what’s going on.

“We’ll see what is possible when the time comes, take things from there and always be open with Danny.”