Sheffield United will monitor Marc McNulty’s progress during training this week before deciding whether to select him for Friday’s crucial League One encounter against Notts County, writes James Shield.
The former Livingston striker has been fitted with a protective mask after missing United’s last five games due to a facial injury but could return to action for the visit of Shaun Derry’s side providing, manager Nigel Clough explained, it does not inhibit his performance.
“We’ll see how Marc gets on,” he told The Star. “If it doesn’t hinder his movement or his vision then, fingers crossed, we should be able to get him back out there on the pitch as soon as possible.
“There’s no reason why the mask should. They are specially-made to fit properly and we’ve all seen people play with them before.
“But each case is different and you just never know. Marc, it goes without saying, is itching to get back out there but it’s only by wearing it when he’s working with the rest of the lads that we’ll really know how it suits.”
“There isn’t usually a problem,” Clough added. “Because these things are made specifically for the individual concerned by experts. However, it’s important to take care.”
Neill Collins, McNulty’s team mate and fellow Scot, represented United during the second-half of the 2012/13 season after being fitted with a similar piece of kit to shield a badly fractured cheekbone. With United averaging less than a goal per game since the 22-year-old was hurt during an altercation in an Edinburgh nightclub, Clough will be keen for him to take some part in a fixture which pits fifth versus sixth in the table.
United, a point above County following their 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic, will move to within three of leaders Bristol City if they condemn the visitors to their first league defeat away from Meadow Lane since April.
McNulty had scored five in 10 outings before being confident to the treatment room. Michael Higdon could also feature against County after making progress in his battle to overcome a hamstring complaint.
“Marc has shown what a good player he is,” Clough said. “He’s an exciting talent and that’s why we brought him here.
“We’ve always maintained that we’ll bring him on and take care of his development the right way and in the proper manner. Exactly the same goes in this situation too.”
“Like Michael, Marc has been working hard behind the scenes and doing everything they possibly can to make sure they are in the same form they were before having to sit things out,” Clough added. “As always, we won’t take any risks but hopefully they’ll reap the benefits of that now.”