“It could have been better, it could have been worse,” was Chris Wilder response to the news that Simon Moore will miss the start of the new Championship season.
The goalkeeper left the pitch on a stretcher during the first-half of last month’s friendly against Rotherham and, after undergoing a minor operation, is expected to return within four to six weeks time.
Although Wilder admits losing Moore is a blow ahead of this weekend’s opener against Brentford, he is adamant that Jamal Blackman and Jake Eastwood can both step into the breach and provide coaching staff with a selection dilemma when the 27-year-old returns.
“Obviously we’d rather Simon wasn’t out,” the United manager said. “You don’t want to see any player picking up any kind of injury. He’ll have to have a bit of a clean-up but he should be ready to play again in the not-so-distant future. When we got the results (of the scan) through, it could have been better of course. Equally, it could have been a lot worse.”
Moore had looked certain to start Saturday’s meeting with Dean Smith’s side after impressing during the opening four games of United’s summer warm-up schedule. Eastwood, a graduate of the club’s Steelphalt Academy, embellished his reputation with a mature display against Stoke City before Blackman, signed on loan from Chelsea, completed the full 90 minutes of last week’s victory over Eastleigh.
Although the Londoner arrived at Bramall Lane following Moore’s set-back, Wilder has once again reiterated Blackman’s move was not a direct response to his team mate’s predicament.
“We were always looking to bring someone in,” he said. “George (Long) has gone out to get games and so that left us with a space there. Jamal was always our number one target, as I’ve made plain before. He’s someone we’ve watched and admired for a while now.”
“Nothing has changed in that regard,” Wilder added. “We wanted to bring Jamal in anyway and we are delighted that we’ve been able to do it.”
Mark Duffy, who was substituted at the Silverlake Stadium with a leg problem, is expected to undergo treatment as United’s preparations for the visit of Brentford continue to gather pace. James Hanson, George Baldock and Ched Evans all missed the trip to Hampshire but, as assistant manager Alan Knill recently predicted, are likely to be available for selection this weekend.
“They’re training again,” Wilder confirmed. “They should be okay. We’re hoping everyone other than (Simon) will be okay. We wanted to win all of our pre-season games, which we did, because I think that’s important. But equally we didn’t want to take risks with people.”
Evans (hip) and Hanson (thigh) last appeared against Malaga FC nearly three weeks ago while Baldock (foot) suffered his knock before the meeting with the former Champions league quarter-finalists.
“George got a bit of a whack on the bottom of his foot,” Wilder said.