Sheffield United fear more players will be hit by virus as relegation fears worsen

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SHEFFIELD United’s efforts to drag themselves out of the Championship relegation zone are being hampered by a virus, manager Micky Adams has revealed.

Matthew Lowton is the latest member of United’s squad to be diagnosed with the condition which has already forced striker Ched Evans to sit out several key games.

The full-back, who scored the winning goal during last Tuesday’s victory over Nottingham Forest, missed last weekend’s defeat at Watford after being taken ill 24 hours before the team departed for Hertfordshire.

United’s preparations for that match – which descended into chaos when Darius Henderson and Lee Williamson were sent off during the first-half – were also interrupted when Adams was struck down with a bout of food poisoning.

“I must have got it after kissing Matty when he scored,” Adams, attempting to put a brave face on the situation, said. “He wasn’t feeling too good at all and that’s why he didn’t take part.

“A few of the lads have had it.”

With arch rivals Leeds next on the agenda at Bramall Lane – Simon Grayson’s side have lost just one of their last 11 league games – United will be keeping their fingers crossed that none of Lowton’s teammates join him in the treatment room.

United remained 23rd in the table – six points adrift of safety – after losing at Vicarage Road.

Chris Steer, chairman of the football club board, last night issued a statement thanking supporters for their patience in an effort to placate growing levels of discontent on the terraces.

“I can not thank our supporters enough for sticking with us through these difficult times on the pitch,” he said. “It is something I appreciate, as does the manager and the players.”

Australian goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas, who has joined United on a short-term basis following a successful trial, is again expected to feature on the bench.

Meanwhile, United travel to the Midlands for the first leg of their FA Youth Cup semi-final with Aston Villa tomorrow. (kick-off 7pm).

The return at Bramall Lane is scheduled for Wednesday April 6.

Admission prices for both are £3 adults and £1 concessions.