HAD things worked out differently then Richard Cresswell could have been up against Sheffield United at Glanford Park.
But, speaking ahead of Saturday’s League One fixture against their namesakes from Scunthorpe, the South Yorkshire club’s manager can barely disguise his delight that the striker is still a member of the visitors’ camp.
Danny Wilson, who watched Cresswell celebrate his return to action with a goal during last weekend’s victory over AFC Bournemouth, said: “It was great to see him out there doing what he does best. Cressy is a really valued member of our squad, and if people on the outside don’t always recognise what he gives us, then in the dressing room there is absolutely no doubt.
“It’s great that he’s going to be staying with us because you need people like Cressy in your team. For a variety of reasons.
“I was chuffed to bits for him. I really was.”
With United forced to cut costs in response to May’s play-off final defeat, Cresswell had seemed destined to follow Stephen Quinn and Nick Montgomery through the exit door before last month’s deadline for new signings.
However, negotiations between Wilson, owner Kevin McCabe and the 34-year-old’s representatives resulted in a compromise being reached which involved Cresswell accepting a significant pay cut in return for a role coaching United’s under-21s.
Wilson, who had elected not to select Cresswell until his future was resolved, said: “The goal Cressy scored
(against Bournemouth) shows that he’s still got so much to offer. Listen, it was a lovely cross from Flynny (Ryan Flynn) but there was still a lot of work for Richard to do before he put that ball away.
“The way he arced his back and neck to get the right connection was superb. That showed real quality.”
“Cressy isn’t just a great player, he’s a great professional too,” Wilson continued. “The way he ap
proaches his work is an example to anyone and you can’t have enough people like that around your club.”
With Dave Kitson agreeing terms with United on Friday, Cresswell will compete with John Cofie, Neil Blackman, Shaun Miller and the former Portsmouth centre-forward for a place in attack.
Chris Porter’s imminent return from injury should increase Wilson’s options still further, although he is unlikely to be available for selection against Alan Knill’s team.
Knill was among those to express an interest in acquiring Cresswell’s services when it appeared he would move.
However United’s decision to tweak Cresswell’s status - as revealed by The Star a week ago - put paid to those hopes.
“We’ve got some good options going forward now,” Wilson said. “Some good people who bring different things to the table and that’s a nice position to be in, being able to change things.”
United climbed to fifth after beating Bournemouth while Scunthorpe remained bottom following defeat by Hartlepool at Victoria Park.