DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, has admitted James Beattie faces a race against time to win his battle for fitness.
But Wilson, who recently signed the former England striker on a short-term contract, last night rubbished suggestions that Beattie is growing disillusioned by recent events at Bramall Lane.
Revealing that the 33-year-old is as “frustrated as anyone” by his failure to make an appearance since returning to South Yorkshire, Wilson told The Star: “James doesn’t need telling what he has to do. There’s nobody more bothered by what’s happening than him and he’s desperate to become involved.
“His deal with us runs out on January 10 I think and he’s really got to get some action under his belt by then for his own sake as much as that of anyone else’s.
“We wanted James to be involved three or four matches ago. We know and he knows he’s not going to be completely sharp but that’s what we were looking at.
“We can always extend his terms but that’s not the main issue.
“He’s working really hard behind the scenes and hopefully he can do something with us over the Christmas period. That would be ideal.”
With Saturday‘s victory at Bournemouth lifting United to third in the League One table, being able to draw upon a player of Beattie’s calibre would see Wilson’s side enter the festive fixture programme with an even greater sense of purpose.
However, a combination of injury (calf) and illness (stomach upset) have so far hampered his progress.
Despite substantially reducing his wage demands in order to engineer a move back to United, Beattie will nevertheless be acutely aware that a decision about his future must be guided by self-interest rather than sentiment.
“I was really pleased by how the boys acquitted themselves,” Wilson, speaking after two own goals helped United secure a sixth straight win, said.
“They did everything that we asked of them and that was great to see.
“We knew it would be a tough game and we knew we’d have to work hard because Bournemouth are a good team but, over the course of the game our goalkeeper Simmo (Steve Simonsen) had very little to do. When he did, I thought he commanded his box excellently.”