Fans’ backing brings Simonsen back to form

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SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson last night declared the League One club’s supporters have played an important role in helping goalkeeper Steve Simonsen rediscover his best form.

Simonsen came under fire earlier this season after a series of error-strewn displays saw him rested in favour of teenage deputy George Long.

But Simonsen, one of Bramall Lane’s most experienced players, has impressed since returning to the starting 11.

Wilson, speaking ahead of today’s visit of Rochdale, said: “I definitely think there’s a relationship between Simmo and the fans now.

“Perhaps that synergy wasn’t there before but it is at the moment and that surely has helped.

“We never doubted him here. I’m actually quite goalie-friendly because I know the scrutiny they are subjected to and how difficult a position it must be to play.

“A misplaced pass from a midfielder is almost expected but with them every save, every kick and every cross is looked at in such minute detail.”

United start this afternoon’s match against their 20th-placed opponents in fifth.

Revealing that a bout of food poisoning has hampered James Beattie’s battle for fitness after returning to South Yorkshire on a short-term contract - “He’s over the gastric problem now but it’s frustrating for the lad and us” - Wilson backed Ched Evans to continue his sparkling form.

The Wales international took his tally for the season to 11 with a brace during last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Torquay and was nominated for the divisional Player of the Month award.

Evans’ performances have once again prompted speculation he is being monitored by a number of Championship clubs, with Ipswich Town among those previously interested in acquiring his services.

Wilson said: “There’s always going to be speculation with good players. If we lost him it would be frustrating.”

n Blades: P43