FITNESS permitting, Ian Bennett will be, by some distance, the oldest player taking part in the showpiece final next week.
The 40-year-old was taken off in Huddersfield Town’s second leg defeat to MK Dons in the semi-finals of the League One play-offs on Tuesday after hurting his hand in a challenge with teammate Peter Clarke.
The Worksop-born player faces a race against time to be fit but x-rays have confirmed he has not broken a bone in his hand. If he misses out, Alex Smithies will step into the void.
It was nearly two years ago that Bennett left Sheffield United and joined the Terriers on a free transfer and the evergreen goalkeeper has proven to be one of then manager Lee Clark’s most astute pieces of business in the transfer market.
Bennett, who spent four years at United, is not the tallest of goalkeepers and because of his lack of height, he does not always come for crosses. But he is brave and a fine shot-stopper. He recorded a shut-out when Huddersfield triumphed 3-0 at United last September.
“I enjoyed my time at Bramall Lane, and, like with any team you’ve played for, I keep an eye on their results,” Bennett has stated. “But it’s all about Huddersfield for me these days.”
Standing in Huddersfield’s path will be Steve Simonsen whose contract at United runs out at the end of the season.
The former Everton and Stoke City ace, who turned 33 last month, has indicated he would like to remain at Bramall Lane beyond his current deal.
“I’d like to stay because I’ve enjoyed working alongside the manager and the staff that he’s brought in and I’d like to continue those relationships,” he said.
Whether his stay his extended at the club or not may depend on what division the club are competing in next year.
Simonsen went through a sticky patch earlier in the season but has impressed since the turn of the year. He made his 100th appearance for United in the second leg of their tie with Stevenage.
Overall, it is hard to separate the duo and I have marked them both seven out of ten.