Sheffield United: Nigel is prepared to wait for influential midfielder

Stephen McGinn (right) is a doubt with injury � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Stephen McGinn (right) is a doubt with injury � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

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Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has insisted Stephen McGinn must be given “until the last possible moment” to prove his fitness ahead of tomorrow’s League One encounter with Swindon Town, writes James Shield.

McGinn was substituted during the opening stages of last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Cambridge United after reporting a sharp pain at the back of a knee.

Tests later revealed a sore hamstring was the most likely cause of the problem and Clough, describing the midfielder as a “genuine 50/50” chance, said: “We’ll wait for Stephen as long as we possibly can but, as always in these situations, we will err on the side of caution.

“We’ve got some very important matches coming up and it’s much better to lose Stephen for one rather than four or five. We’re about to enter a very busy period.”

“We’ve got enough players to cope but it’s not a numbers thing,” Clough added. “That’s not really the issue.

“Ideally we’d rather keep that partnership going between him and Michael Doyle because they’ve done very well together in there.”

United are 20th in the table despite stretching their unbeaten run in all competitions to four courtesy of that second-round success at the Abbey Stadium. Clough’s charges visit fellow strugglers Stevenage seven days after entertaining Mark Cooper’s seventh-placed side before preparing for fixtures against Oldham Athletic, Tranmere Rovers and Walsall.

Defender Tony McMahon and the on-loan Aidy White are both eligible for selection after missing the trip to Cambridgeshire. Town, who like United reached the play-off semi-finals last term, reportedly cancelled winger Luke Rooney’s contract before Tuesday’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy clash at The Lamex Stadium.

Manager Mark Cooper, who is waiting to discover if centre-forward Nile Ranger will make himself available for selection, revealed Rooney’s problems with predecessor Paolo Di Canio had cast a shadow over his performances this term.

“When I came to the club he was part of the squad and had brilliant ability but was maybe just a bit disillusioned with the previous regime,” Cooper explained. “He was totally ostracised under that.

“He came back into the fold with me and Kevin (MacDonald) and showed glimpses of the ability which made the football club pay what they did for him.

“I think that really knocked him back, the way he was treated. Once you lose that momentum it’s difficult to then get it back but I’m sure that if he wants to get it back and push himself then he can make a good career out of the game.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1