MICKY Adams last night quashed speculation that Darius Henderson could be missing for the rest of the season.
But the Sheffield United manager confirmed that Henderson, who has been absent since April, is not expected to return to action until the closing stages of the campaign.
Adams’ first-team squad prepared for tomorrow’s Championship visit of Leicester City with a behind-closed-doors friendly against Leeds.
Henderson did not take part in that match, and Adams predicted: “Darius might be another four to six weeks yet. He’s coming on well and he’s putting in the work but, to be honest, I don’t really want to put a definite timescale on things.
“He’s a big player for us, a very important one, and the sooner he is available the better. But, equally, it wouldn’t be right to rush things unnecessarily.”
Henderson, who scored 12 goals for United last term, is recovering from a serious tendon problem and, despite the recent arrival of Marcus Bent on loan, is likely to emerge as a key figure in the South Yorkshire club’s battle for survival when he eventually returns.
United enter their meeting with Sven Goran Eriksson’s side 21st in the table still searching for their first win since 49-year-old Adams was appointed five games ago.
With the transfer window set to close today, officials at Bramall Lane are still waiting to discover if Andy Reid, who recently impressed during a brief spell on loan in South Yorkshire, departs Sunderland on a permanent basis.
However, even if the Republic of Ireland international fails to join another Premier League club, it is by no means certain that he will return to United.
An experienced centre-half is Adams’ top priority following the arrival of Coventry midfielder Michael Doyle on a two-and-a-half-year contract last week.
Meanwhile, United have announced details of their forthcoming football camps at Shirecliffe, Tideswell and the Derek Dooley Development Centre at Crookes between February 21 and 25.
Youngsters aged between five and 13 can attend the Shirecliffe scheme for £10 per day (block booking discounts are available). 14 year-olds are welcome at Tideswell and Crookes where all-girl sessions are being run.
Phone 08716 632432 (Shirecliffe) or 01142 929402 (Tideswell, Crookes).