FITNESS, not finance, will decide whether James Beattie has a long-term future at Bramall Lane.
Nevertheless, despite dropping a huge hint that he would like to keep the former England striker beyond the duration of his short-term contract, Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson told The Star last night that coaching staff must not allow personal feelings to cloud their personal judgement when it comes to assessing Beattie’s true worth.
“One of the things that is really pleasing for me is that James hasn’t come here looking for a massive pay day,” Wilson said. “We wouldn’t be able to give him one to be honest but he’s never mentioned money once since he stepped back through the door.
“For me, that’s a real bonus. When you’ve got someone with that attitude and commitment to the club you can’t help but be pleased.”
Beattie scored 34 goals in 65 appearances for United earlier in his career and returned to South Yorkshire in November after leaving Glasgow Rangers. The two-month agreement he initially signed with Wilson’s squad expires following Saturday’s visit to Bury although both parties inserted a clause allowing him to feature until January 28’s FA Cup fourth round tie with either Birmingham City or Wolves.
The 33-year-old is understood to have discussed his situation with United’s owner and plc chairman, Kevin McCabe, before featuring against Salisbury in the competition last weekend.
Wilson, speaking ahead of tonight’s League One fixture with Yeovil Town, acknowledged: “James warrants enough for a further look.
“He’s humorous and because of that, together with his experience, he’s really good to have around.
“There are loads of different aspects why we’d like to keep him.”
“I thought there were flashes of the ‘old James’ against Salisbury,” Wilson added. “But the opportunities to get him out there at the moment have to be right for us and we can’t be sentimental. We know what he means to the fans. But those fans also want to see their team winning games.
“James wants to play and that’s why it was good to give him 40 minutes or so (against Salisbury).”
United’s commitment towards ensuring expenditure reaches sustainable levels over the course of the next three transfer windows means that, in normal circumstances, Wilson would be unlikely to entertain the thought of recruiting a player lacking the conditioning required to start a first team game.
However Beattie’s status, combined with his vast reserves of knowledge and talent, means all three parties are likely to persevere until a compromise is found.
A ‘pay as you play’ deal could be one possible outcome.
“Like I say, James has been a positive influence,” said Wilson. “He just wants to play football and, if he can do that here, then I don’t see why he’d want to go anywhere else.”
Teams and ref
United (possible): Simonsen, Ertl, Collins, Maguire, Jean-Francois, Williamson, Doyle, MacDonald, Flynn, Evans, Porter (4-4-2).
Yeovil (possible): Gilmartin, Huntington, Jones, N’Gala, Ayling, Blizzard, G Williams, Ehmer, MacLean, Agard, Obika (4-4-2).
Darren Drysdale: Has generally kept his cards in his pockets this season. The Lincolnshire official averages 2.28 cautions per game since August. Took charge of Sheffield United’s visit to Oldham Athletic in August.
One to watch
Kieran Agard is Yeovil’s top scorer in league competition this term with four goals from 12 starts. However, the former Everton trainee has not hit the target since October’s 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient in Somerset.
Chris Porter’s goal ensured the first ever competitive meeting between these two sides – at Huish Park five months ago – ended in a victory for the visitors.