JOHNNY Ertl is thrilled to be closing in on a first-team return - and he could be joined shortly at Sheffield United by James Beattie.
Former Blades forward Beattie, a free agent having left Scottish champions Rangers at the end of last season, watched the club’s reserves draw 1-1 with Derby County yesterday in Ertl’s comeback match.
Manager Danny Wilson is searching for reinforcements up front, having seen Billy Clarke and Matt Phillips go back to Blackpool following the expiry of their loan deals, and The Star understands he is considering offering Beattie a contract until January.
The ex-Everton and Stoke forward, who won five caps for England, has recently been training with Bournemouth. Injuries have plagued Beattie since he departed Bramall Lane, an ankle problem restricted him to just six starts at Ibrox last term.
Chief executive Julian Winter admitted last night Beattie’s representatives have been in talks with United and he is set to train with United’s squad over the coming days.
Meanwhile, Ertl handed Wilson a major boost by playing the full 90 minutes in the second string’s Central League Central Division encounter with Derby. The Austrian international, who can operate at centre-half or in a defensive midfield role, has not featured since March when he damaged his cruciate knee ligaments in a reserve fixture with Nottingham Forest.
“I’m so happy to be back,” he said. “I’ve been out for a long, long time and I couldn’t really have asked for anything more as Derby played a good team. It is such a joy to play football again after having a long-term injury.”
Ertl is unlikely to be considered for selection until he gets another reserve match under his belt.