AS FAR as Danny Wilson is concerned, talk is cheap. He is more bothered about actions than rhetoric.
Before he makes a decision on James Beattie’s future at Bramall Lane, the Sheffield United manager wants the former England international to prove his fitness and force his way into the first-team set-up.
With forward Richard Cresswell suspended for tomorrow’s clash at home to Hartlepool (1pm kick off), the door has opened ajar for Beattie, now aged 33, to make his first start since April. He came on as a late substitute in United’s come-from-behind win over Notts County in front of the Sky cameras and is vying with Chris Porter to partner in-form Ched Evans up front.
It is no secret Beattie, who became United’s record signing when he completed a £4m transfer from Everton in the summer of 2007, wants to extend his stay at the South Yorkshire outfit. His short-term deal is set to expire next month.
However, Wilson has hinted Beattie may have to settle for a place on the bench against Pool as the club chase an eighth successive win in all competitions.
He said: “I see him [James] more as an impact player. I don’t think he could last 90 minutes right now.”
The Blades chief said he and the backroom staff will assess Beattie’s fitness today and tomorrow but he hopes the talented striker will be available for selection.
Wilson had hoped to play Beattie in the FA Cup tie with Torquay but the player suffered a stomach upset on the eve of the match. A calf injury has also prevented him from playing an influential role in United’s promotion tilt as Wilson’s men aim to climb out of the third tier of English football at the first attempt.
“We will wait and see whether James can start the game or not,” Wilson added.
“We have a bit of cover [up front]. We have three to four strikers so can alternate if we need to.”
Wilson says United are in no rush to hold talks with Beattie’s representatives over extending his contract. He insists the priority for the club is to get Beattie fully fit and out on the pitch on a regular basis.
Beattie, who returned to training last week after shaking off his calf problem, was given a rapturous reception by the United faithful when he was brought on as a replacement against County and Wilson acknowledges his return has boosted morale at the club.
“James has given the fans and players a lift,” he said. “He was getting a standing ovation in the warm up which is tremendous. It gives everyone a feelgood factor.
“On that particular day, we didn’t put him on so he could get a round of applause; we did it because we thought he could help us win the game.
“The decibels went up as soon as he came on. He may not have had an impact on the ball as such but certainly the atmosphere was lifted by his presence.”
A groin knock could keep Lecsinel Jean-Francois out of the Hartlepool clash.