Utility man Ben Davies stepped up his comeback from injury with 90 minutes for Sheffield United’s U21 defeat to Nottingham Forest yesterday afternoon.
Davies, the former Derby County man, has started just three times for Nigel Clough’s side since the turn of the year after a succession of injury problems.
But the 33-year-old, who was on the bench on Saturday as United lost 2-1 at home to Fleetwood Town, strengthened his case for inclusion in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Scunthorpe with a solid display at right-back.
United, who also included youngsters Louis Reed, George Willis and Che Adams in their starting eleven, lost the game 2-0 on a bitterly cold afternoon at their Redtooth Academy training complex.
But Davies was one of their few shining lights, and stung the palms of the Forest goalkeeper with a free-kick in the dying minutes.
With centre-back Chris Basham suspended for the trip to Scunthorpe, and partner Jay McEveley struggling with a shoulder injury, Davies could start at Glanford Park with a makeshift partnership of Craig Alcock and John Brayford at the heart of the defence.
“We’ve lost Bash for two games, which is a big blow for us because he’s been as good as anyone,” Clough, who saw the former Blackpool man pick up his tenth caution of the season against Fleetwood, said.
“And Terry Kennedy is out, too, although his injury isn’t as bad as first feared.
“So someone will have to come and fill in there. But we have Craig, Kieron Freeman and Ben, too, as well as John Brayford. So we’ll cope.”
Clough, whose side remained fifth in the table after the Fleetwood game but slipped 13 points behind second-placed Preston, admitted his side were suffering from a lack of confidence: “It just shows how it can drain away in the space of a few days,” he said.
“We were on top of the world after the Bristol City win, but we’re inconsistent at the minute and we’re giving goals away through mistakes.
“We haven’t won at home for a few games but it’s not through a lack of effort - we just keep making the wrong decision when it matters.”