DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, will not rush Dave Kitson back into the first-team fold until he has fully recovered from his hamstring injury.
The experienced forward, who has registered three goals in nine appearances since moving to Bramall Lane, has been sidelined since October 23.
The 32-year-old recently agreed a contract with the League One club until the end of the 2012/13 campaign.
There is also a clause in Kitson’s deal which could see the former Reading player remain in South Yorkshire for a further 12 months should Wilson’s troops secure promotion to the Championship.
Wilson conceded: “We can’t take any risks with Dave (Kitson) because it’s one of those injuries that is hard to judge.
“The players, especially when they are experienced, know better than anyone - and the same with Matt (Hill) and Tony (McMahon); you ultimately go with what they say because they know better than anyone ultimately.”
United have missed Kitson’s clever hold-up play and aerial ability at times as they have slipped to fourth in the standings.
The South Yorkshire club suffered their second defeat in four matches at Brentford last weekend, a result which leaves them three points adrift of table-topping Tranmere Rovers.
Wilson is urging the team to learn from their capital setback.
“We are a good team with good players,” he said.
“We were disappointed with the result but not many teams will go to Brentford and create the number of chances we did.”