SHEFFIELD UNITED: Dave McAllister’s prize catch

avid McAllister: Is determined to reel-in his former club Shrewsbury Town.
avid McAllister: Is determined to reel-in his former club Shrewsbury Town.
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SOME of his team mates favour an afternoon on the manicured fairways of their local golf course.

Others, a spot of retail therapy in Meadowhall’s swankiest stores.

But, when it comes to escaping the oppressive world of professional football, David McAllister prefers carp to designer clobber.

“Everyone needs to switch off from time to time and the best way for me is to go fishing,” the Sheffield United midfielder said. “People might laugh but it really helps with my football.

“I can just sit there and pretty much empty my mind. Just forget about everything.

“If I didn’t do that then I’d constantly be thinking about football. I’d be worrying about training and what I’d done earlier that day.

“Sport can be a pretty full-on business and, to be honest, it can be as mentally tiring as it is physically at times.”

With United expected to deliver rather than challenge for promotion from League One this season, every entry in their diary is of vital importance.

But for McAllister, Saturday’s curtain-raiser against Shrewsbury Town, coupled with February’s return at Greenhous Meadow, will be particularly poignant.

The midfielder, who has made 14 appearances since arriving at Bramall Lane 19 months ago, enjoyed a successful spell on loan with Graham Turner’s side last term. Indeed, had the former Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa manager got his way, then McAllister could have been wearing blue and amber rather than red and white stripes this weekend.

“Mr Turner asked to see if I would be interested in going back there again but I want to concentrate on things here at United now,” he said. “Graham accepted my decision, I think he knew what the answer would be anyway, and wished me all the best.

“He also gave me a bit of advice which was to completely commit and focus on doing that. Not to let anything else get in the way and that was really good of him.”

“That’s not to say I didn’t really enjoy myself at Shrewsbury,” McAllister added. “Because I did.

“But, as far as I was concerned, the whole point of the exercise was to put myself in a better position to challenge here. I made no secret of that.

“I’ve got to admit, though, when the fixtures came out these were the first two games that I looked for.”

McAllister tasted defeat only twice during an 11 week stay in Shropshire before a controversial red card saw him return north a month before Shrewsbury sealed promotion. His description of Turner as a man who “respects hard work” gives some indication of the challenge the visitors will pose.

“If you give everything, are always ready to put in 100 per cent, then he will stand by you no matter what,” McAllister said. “When I first went there he told me that’s all he expected. Effort and to try and do my best.”

McAllister, who started his career at Drogheda in his native Ireland before spells with Shelbourne and St Patrick’s Athletic, enjoyed an opportunity to test his progress after appearing as a substitute during United’s Capital One Cup tie against Burton Albion last weekend.

The 23-year-old always possessed the energy and shooting ability to challenge for a place in Danny Wilson’s starting eleven. However, McAllister used his time in the south-west to improve his temperament and technique.

United’s manager commented the Dubliner “had obviously improved” after observing him in training towards the end of last term.

McAllister said: “I feel like I’m a better player now.

“Getting regular games in competitive football has really helped my education because, week in and week out, you’re playing for points and that’s a big responsibility.

“You get closed down quicker, the tackles fly in and that means you’ve got to be much better on the ball.”

Now, though, McAllister hopes the knowledge he gleaned under Turner’s tutelage can work to United’s advantage.

“I noticed the pace in League One is a lot quicker than League Two so hopefully that’s something we can exploit,” he said. “My only concern now is helping United and trying to press on here.”