Too soon for Beattie deal

Free agent: James Beattie last played for Rangers
Free agent: James Beattie last played for Rangers
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DANNY Wilson last night dismissed claims that James Beattie, the former Sheffield United and England striker, is poised for an imminent return to Bramall Lane.

Although Wilson has made no attempt to disguise the fact that he held talks with the player following his release by Glasgow Rangers earlier this month, the United manager poured cold water on speculation that a contract has already been agreed in principle.

Beattie scored 34 goals in 65 appearances during a prolific spell at Bramall Lane earlier in his career but has been plagued by injury since departing South Yorkshire over two years ago.

An ankle problem limited him to only six starts for the Ibrox club and Wilson, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Wycombe Wanderers, said: “Those reports are very inaccurate.

“I wouldn’t have thought he could get fit in a week.

“If he has got up to speed then I’d love to know how he’s done it.

“Seriously, the lads we’ve already got here are banging the goals in.

“Because of that, it’s not an area that’s an immediate concern at the moment.”

Beattie, who cost United £4 million when he arrived from Everton in 2007, recently admitted he must improve his conditioning before contemplating another move.

Although The Star understands Wilson’s board of directors have also met with the centre-forward’s representative, the mechanics of any proposed deal are likely to prove difficult.

United, who will nevertheless keep a watching brief on Beattie’s situation, will ask either Richard Cresswell or Chris Porter to partner Ched Evans in attack at Adams Park where they will encounter opponents 22nd in the table.

Wilson, whose side are second, rested Cresswell for last weekend’s meeting with Colchester and the 34-year-old was forced to watch as Evans and Porter both wrote their names on the scoresheet during the 3-0 rout of John Ward’s side.

“Of course Cressy was frustrated,” Wilson acknowledged. “But there’s a way to react and he epitomises what it means to be professional.

“Cressy will play a lot of games for us and he looks like a spring chicken at times.

“But it’s tough for anyone - let alone those of us who are a little more mature - to play Saturdays and Tuesdays.”

Teams and ref

Wycombe (possible): Bull, Foster, Sandell, Tunnicliffe, Johnson, Donnelly, Grant, Ainsworth, Lewis, Strevens, Benyon (4-4-2).

United (possible): Simonsen, Williams, Maguire, Collins, Lowton, Williamson, Doyle, McDonald, Quinn, Porter, Evans (4-4-2).

James Linington: Tomorrow’s match at Adams Park will be the first time the Newport-based official has overseen a match involving Sheffield United. Has yet to send off a player this season but has issued 31 yellow cards in 10 outings.

One to watch

Gareth Ainsworth: He can expect a hostile reception from Sheffield United supporters. But the vastly experienced winger is nevertheless one of Wycombe Wanderers’ most influential players. His leadership qualities will be crucial if Gary Waddock’s side are to halt their recent poor run. The former QPR winger, who was once caretaker-boss at Loftus Road, turned 38 in May.

History lesson

United have won the only previous meeting between these two sides – a 4-1 Carling Cup success at Bramall Lane nine years ago – in professional competition. Nick Montgomery appeared as a second-half substitute for Phil Jagielka during that match.