Sheffield United: Clough put the ball in Butler’s court

Nigel Clough says he has no plans to loan out Andy Butler � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Nigel Clough says he has no plans to loan out Andy Butler � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
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Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has admitted Andy Butler is frustrated by his lack of first team opportunities since arriving at Bramall Lane, writes James Shield.

But Clough, speaking ahead of tonight’s visit to Peterborough, told the former Walsall centre-half not to rule out the possibility of a return to League One action as United attempt to kick-start their season following consecutive defeats.

Butler was pictured with supporters at the Banks’s Stadium while Clough’s squad was being beaten by Coventry City last weekend, fuelling speculation he could be set to depart only two months after signing a long-term contract.

Pointing to the fact Butler played and scored during the Capital One Cup success over Mansfield Town, Clough said: “Andy isn’t the only one who was missing (against Coventry) because Chris Porter and Stephen McGinn were as well. But they were all involved against Mansfield so that would suggest they are not too far away wouldn’t it.

“The way they can get back in, what any player in their position should do, is to keep on working hard during training. Because, if I was in their situation, I’d think nothing is set in stone as the team has lost it’s first two games.”

Asked whether Butler could be allowed to leave on loan, Clough added: “If Andy comes to us and says he wants to play football then, yes, we’d look at it. But we have no plans to let him go.

“So we are just leaving it as it is. We’ve got no problems with his attitude and the same goes for Chris and Stephen.”

Clough’s response to questions about Butler’s predicament place the metaphorical ball firmly in Butler’s court as United, who were beaten by Bristol City on the opening weekend of the new campaign, look to secure their first points of the season at unbeaten Peterborough.

The former England international was also unequivocal about the contribution of Scottish trio Ryan Flynn, Stefan Scougall and Jamie Murphy since United returned to competitive action earlier this month.

“That’s one of the most frustrating things at the moment,” Clough said. “Because they were excellent last season but they’ll get back to where they were, I’ve got no doubts about that.

“Stefan, in fairness, has been carrying a knock and Ryan missed part of the summer too so maybe that’s been an issue.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1