JAMES Beattie hopes to complete an emotional return to Bramall Lane this week after Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson confirmed he would like to sign the former England and Glasgow Rangers striker BEFORE he reaches full fitness.
Beattie, who scored 34 goals in 65 appearances after completing a £4m move to South Yorkshire four years ago, watched Saturday’s League One win over Carlisle after being invited to train at Shirecliffe last week.
United are understood to have held talks with the player before the match after Beattie privately expressed a desire to re-join the club he left in controversial circumstances in the 2008/09 campaign.
Despite question marks remaining about Beattie’s conditioning following a three month absence from the game, Wilson made no attempt to disguise his desire to acquire the centre-forward’s services after Ched Evans’ first-half effort ensured United stayed fifth in League One.
Asked whether he would be prepared to recruit Beattie while he is still undergoing a tailor-made rehabilitation programme, Wilson told The Star: “Of course. Yes, we’d like to do something.
“James needs to get fit. There’s no secret about that. Would he walk straight into the team? I can assure you that he wouldn’t.
“He needs to show he can get up to speed with the pace and tempo of football at this level but, credit to James, he’s always made it clear himself that’s the case. He’s not daft and he’s working very hard.”
Wilson’s assessment of the situation suggests that not only has Beattie indicated he is prepared to negotiate a contract which reflects United’s third tier status but also that plc chairman Kevin McCabe, who attended the Carlisle contest, has provided assurances the necessary funding will be available should a mutually acceptable deal be reached.
However with Blackpool’s Ian Holloway a known admirer of Beattie having captured him on loan last term, it is by no means certain that he will sign on the dotted line.