Sheffield United: Best still to come from Higdon, vows Clough

Michael Higdon
Michael Higdon

Nigel Clough has warned Sheffield United’s League One rivals that Michael Higdon is poised to rediscover the form which made him the scourge of opposition defences in the Netherlands and Scotland.

Higdon, who arrived at Bramall Lane during the close season, will enter Saturday’s game against Rochdale searching for his second goal in six appearances since parting company with NEC Nijmegen.

Clough could capture another centre-forward on an emergency loan after his employers had a “substantive” bid for a player, known to be contracted to a Championship club, rejected before last week’s transfer deadline.

But, after offering Higdon a route back into English football following prolific spells both in Europe and north of the border, he told The Star: “Michael is a quality player and that quality will eventually shine through. But it always takes a little time to adapt to new surroundings and, you’ve also got to remember, he’s not had a proper pre-season so he’s catching-up in that regard.

“He brings a nous to our forward-line, physical presence and good experience too. Michael could easily have a few more goals as well but for a some really good clearances and saves.”

Higdon, aged 31, netted 14 times for NEC after moving to the continent following successful spells with Falkirk, St Mirren and Motherwell which culminated in him being named Scotland’s Players’ Player of the Year for the 2012/13 campaign.

Clough added: “He’s not been fit enough to play Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday but he’s getting there now. There’s still a lot more to come from Michael and, although he’s already contributing, we’ve not seen the best of him yet.”

United, who will begin preparing for the visit of Keith Hill’s side at the Redtooth Academy later today, have identified at least two more potential targets as they look to apply the finishing touches to a recruitment drive which has already seen 11 new faces join the club.

Despite failing to make a breakthrough in the transfer market last week, Clough will refuse to deviate from a shopping list also thought to contain a defensive midfielder and centre-half.

Jason Pearce, Leeds’ captain, was the subject of an approach before the Capital One Cup success over West Ham. But events at Elland Road, where Clough’s counterpart David Hockaday was sacked following a defeat by Bradford City, has prompted United to explore alternative options while Clough has distanced himself from reports that Noel Hunt, Pearce’s colleague, is a candidate for the attacking vacancy which exists alongside Higdon and Marc McNulty.

However, a representative acting on behalf of United’s Yorkshire rivals is understood to have informed them of Hunt’s availability earlier this term.

“We know the players we want,” Clough said. “And we want them because we know what they can bring to our team.”