Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has admitted it was a mistake to let Marc McNulty leave Bramall Lane earlier this season.
Citing a lack of understanding about how the abolition of emergency loans would impact upon his squad, Wilder told The Star he would not have sanctioned the centre-forward’s move to Bradford City if he “knew then what I do now.”
McNulty could make his first appearance since being recalled from Valley Parade when the League One leaders visit Southend this afternoon and Wilder said: “This new era of rules and decisions, it’s a learning curve for us all. We talked about the new rules at the start of the season, and knowing what I do now, we wouldn’t have let Marc go out. But we did, and now he is back with us. We have to be strong in the starting 11, but you need options on the bench. I think now it’s a 14-man game.”
“The time I probably realised was when Leon (Clarke) got injured and then Caolan (Lavery) took a little bit longer (to get match fit) than we thought,” Wilder added. “The numbers that we now have - if we want to play one or two up front - are good. All of them can bring something different and want to get in the team.
McNulty spent five months at Valley Parade before returning to South Yorkshire ahead of Monday’s victory over Bury.
Describing his conversation with City manager Stuart McCall, Wilder said: “I marked his card, I have a lot of respect for Stuart. I would imagine he would have done the same with me.
“Marc can finish, is a talented boy and we have a lot of good players at the top of the pitch. He will get an opportunity, I am sure, and his attitude is good.
“When I spoke to him he wasn’t down in the dumps about coming back, he realised there was a chance for him to force his way into our team and that’s all I can give him. He has to now take that opportunity.”