Sheffield United: Blades receive striker boost

Marc McNulty is closing in on a return to action for Sheffield United � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Marc McNulty is closing in on a return to action for Sheffield United � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
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Marc McNulty will be fitted with a protective mask as Sheffield United attempt to accelerate his return from injury, writes James Shield.

Nigel Clough confirmed the former Livingston centre-forward, who has missed the League One club’s last four games after being assaulted in Edinburgh, is making “good progress” behind the scenes at the Redtooth Academy but has yet to resume full contact training.

“Marc is going to be measured for a mask next week,” Clough, the United manager, told The Star. “Then we’ll see how he feels, if he’s comfortable wearing it, before taking things from there.

“If he’s okay, that will enable him to start joining in properly with the rest of the lads. But he’s been working hard and he’s running again.”

McNulty had scored five goals in his last 10 appearances before being ruled-out following an incident in the Scottish capital earlier this month. Clough acknowledged the 22-year-old was an “innocent party” when he briefed members of the media on the situation following United’s FA Cup first round tie at Crewe Alexandra but, with fellow striker Michael Higdon already nursing a hamstring complaint,” did express “frustration” at losing another attacking option.

Brighton and Hove Albion’s Chris O’Grady features on a short-list of targets in the emergency loan market but, according to Sami Hyypia, will not be made available for transfer until a suitable replacement is identified by scouts at The AMEX Stadium.

Speaking after Tuesday evening’s replay with Steve Davis’ side, which United won 2-0, Clough said: “Hopefully Michael and Marc aren’t too far away now and that’s good news. It won’t stop us attempting to go into the loan market but they were both in really good form before having to sit things out.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1