JAMIE Ward is unlikely to feature against Reading this evening.
The Sheffield United winger, who was reportedly dropped from the team beaten at Ipswich Town recently after falling foul of Shirecliffe’s no-holds-barred regime, has only trained intermittently since becoming a father last week.
Manager Micky Adams suggested Ward could return to action when Brian McDermott’s side visit Bramall Lane for a crucial Championship fixture but Alan Cork, the 49-year-old’s assistant, confirmed last night: “Jamie’s not really done much preparation. I think it’s taken a lot out of him.
“Probably more than he thought it would, in fact. I don’t think he’s been getting much sleep. Certainly his patterns have been interrupted.
“Jamie didn’t do any work on Friday or Saturday. He’s done a little with the lads in the morning now and he’s staying behind to do some more on his own.
“But I don’t think he’ll be involved in this one.”
Adams refused to comment on Ward’s situation when the question was raised before United moved to within three points of safety following a 1-1 draw with Millwall. But he did appear to extend an olive branch in the former Northern Ireland under-21 international’s direction by insisting: “We’ve only got a small squad. We want everyone to be pulling in the same direction because we’re all in this together.”
United will also be without Nick Montgomery - who suffered suspected ligament damage midway through the meeting with Millwall – and the suspended Rob Kozluk. But midfielder Lee Williamson returns after serving a one match ban.
Reading, who were beaten 2-1 by Norwich City over the weekend, are 10 places higher than United in 12th. Turkish defender Jem Karacan was sent off at Carrow Road for a reckless challenge on David Fox.
“I didn’t get a great view of the sending-off,” City’s Adam Drury said. “It looked like he was late though and he caught him. It’s always down to the ref.”
Reading’s Jay Tabb is adamant he wants to stay at the Madejski Stadium after opening talks aimed at agreeing a new contract.
“If the contract is there, I’ll be signing it,” he said.