Midfielder James Wallace has handed Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough a fitness boost ahead of the resumption of the League One season this weekend, after completing his first full game since suffering a groin complaint in pre-season.
United landed the former Tranmere captain in June, but the England U20 international has been limited to two first-team appearances to date - against West Ham and Preston - off the bench.
But Clough - whose side return to League One action this weekend against Rochdale, after their game against MK Dons was postponed due to international call-ups - watched Wallace yesterday complete a commanding 90-minute shift for United’s Professional Development side, in a 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers at the Redtooth Academy.
Senior players Stephen McGinn and Chris Porter also played as United went down to a first-half goal from young trialist Junior Morais, formerly of Wycombe.
Reports in the Midlands, meanwhile, have linked Walsall with a loan move for former captain Andy Butler - although wages are understood to be a potential stumbling block to any deal.
Butler has made just one appearance - in the Capital One Cup win over Mansfield Town - since arriving from Walsall, and Clough admitted: “If somebody came to us and asked if that was a possibility then, yes, it’s something we would of course consider.
“There’s nothing I hate to see more than a player just sitting on the bench but unfortunately, you can’t include everyone in your plans for particular games because we also have to consider the dynamics of the subs we might need. There has to be a balance there, too.”
But Clough added: “As far as we are concerned, everyone can have a part to play. And opportunities will always develop because it is a long season with plenty of games. We’re not looking to ease anyone out of the door but we’ll consider anything on its merits.”