Sheffield United are yet to see the best of Marlon King, manager Nigel Clough has admitted.
But he revealed the Jamaica international, who is poised to make only his ninth senior appearance since February at Shrewsbury Town this weekend, continues to make significant progress behind the scenes following injury.
Clough, confirming he spoke with King within hours of being appointed on Wednesday, said: “Marlon, by his own admission, isn’t there in terms of full sharpness yet but that’s completely understandable.
“He had been out for quite a while before coming here and didn’t have a proper pre-season either so that is bound to have an effect. But he’s working hard and because of that he’ll be getting closer all the time.”
King joined United on a free transfer last month after a knee complaint, which later required surgery to correct, prompted his departure from Birmingham City.
The 33-year-old, who has also represented Watford, Middlesbrough and Wigan Athletic, was on target during the League One fixture with Crawley Town 25 days ago. Prior to being injured, he had claimed 32 goals in 79 outings with Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua among those interested in acquiring his services.
Despite drawing a blank during Clough’s first match at the helm - last weekend’s victory over Crewe Alexandra - King showed signs of developing a potentially prolific partnership with fellow centre-forward Lyle Taylor. Previously of Falkirk and AFC Bournemouth, Taylor also endured a slow start to his United career before bursting into life by scoring twice against Coventry City earlier this month.
“I thought Lyle was a real handful,” Clough said. “He caused the (Crewe) defenders a lot of problems, really put himself about and that was good to see.
“The attitude from the players in general, to be fair, was really pleasing and encouraging. They showed the right characteristics and, I think, got what they deserved out of it.”
Meanwhile, United begin their latest FA Youth Cup campaign at Oldham Athletic tomorrow (kick-off 7pm). United reached the final of the competition in 2011 but were beaten 6-3 over two legs by Manchester United.
Clough, together with coach Chris Morgan, was among the crowd when Travis Binnion’s under-18’s drew 1-1 with Charlton Athletic at the Redtooth Academy on Saturday morning.