DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, has lavished praise on Johnny Ertl after the utility player returned to action ahead of schedule in midweek.
The Austrian international, who can be utilised at centre-back or in midfield, featured prominently in the reserves’ 1-1 draw with Derby County. Apart from a behind closed doors match with Leeds United a fortnight ago, it was the 29-year-old’s first competitive outing since he suffered cruciate knee ligament damage in March.
Ertl played 90 minutes and is expected tofeature in the second string’s clash at Nottingham Forest next week.
“It is fantastic news to have him back,” said Wilson. “Johnny wasn’t meant to be back for another couple of weeks but the determination and dedication he has shown has been fantastic.
“He is a fantastic professional. It is a big lift for everyone. He can play in different positions too which is very important.”
Winger Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, on loan from Wolves until January, has shaken off his knock and will resume training with United on Monday.
“He is fully fit and we believe he has been through a very intense programme so we hope he is going to be okay now,” said Wilson.
Despite Ertl and Mendez-Laing nearing first-team returns, Wilson is refusing to rule out strengthening his squad before the loan window closes on Thursday.
Of the threat Carlisle will pose this afternoon, Wilson added: “Carlisle have had an in and out start start to the season, a bit like ourselves.
“They have done very well over the last few seasons and I’m sure they will be expecting to challenge for the play-offs.”