Nigel Adkins has indicated Marc McNulty will return to Sheffield United this summer following an impressive spell at Portsmouth on loan.
McNulty claimed eight goals in his first 18 appearances after joining the League Two club three months ago, prompting some observers to question the wisdom of United’s decision to part company with their most prolific marksman last term.
Although Portsmouth are thought to be keen on keeping the 23-year-old when his temporary agreement expires in May, Adkins told The Star: “This is his first regular starting role in English football. That’s important and it’s good for his progress. We were endeavouring to reduce the size of the squad and everybody should want to play.”
McNulty’s record at Fratton Park, combined with concerns over the fitness of fellow centre-forward Billy Sharp, has already forced Adkins to explain the thinking behind his strategy to develop players on the periphery of United’s first-team plans.
Sharp has been nursing a long-standing foot complaint but his presence in South Yorkshire persuaded coaching staff that McNulty, signed from Livingston at the beginning of the previous campaign, could be allowed to further his education elsewhere.
With another striker, academy graduate Dominic Calvert-Lewin, forcing himself into contention, Adkins said: “That’s what we want, firepower. Yes, our objective this year is to get promoted but we want goalscorers at the club going forward.”
Adkins, who saw defender Bob Harris move to Fleetwood Town on loan last week, added: “Players should always want to go and play. They need to be playing, in fact.
“There’s nothing wrong with that and, if they are, it benefits everybody involved, them and us as a club as well.”