Sheffield United: Leon Clarke is prepared to ignore the pain and help his team's promotion push

Leon Clarke is prepared to push himself through the pain barrier in order to help Sheffield United's promotion push, manager Chris Wilder has revealed, after confirming the centre-forward is on the verge of featuring against Ipswich Town.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 12:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th December 2018, 12:38 pm
Leon Clarke is closing in on a return to action: James Wilson/Sportimage

Despite fears he could miss the entire Christmas period through injury, Clarke resumed training this morning before being examined by medical staff later in the afternoon.

Providing the 33-year-old suffers no adverse reaction, Wilder is prepared to select him in the squad which travels to Portman Road.

Leon Clarke has missed Sheffield United's last three games: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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"It's been a nerve issue around Leon's hip," he said. "We have had it scanned and assessed. He is not going to do any major damage, it's just about getting through the pain threshold.

"He will be disappointed to have missed the last few games, but he has worked hard and been out on the grass. If he comes through training, then he will be on the bus."

Clarke, United's leading goalscorer last season, aggravated the problem during last month's victory over Brentford and watched their meetings with Leeds, Reading and West Bromwich Albion from the stands. Acknowledging he had "put his hand up" to play at Griffin Park, Wilder insisted Clarke will continue to be monitored closely but that a series of exploratory tests suggest the issue, which traces back to earlier this year, can be managed with help from United's physiotherapy and conditioning department. 

Plans to bolster the attacking options at the club's disposal during the forthcoming transfer window should also reduce the pressure on players such as Clarke to volunteer for duty despite not being fully fit.

Chris Wilder is preparing to welcome Leon Clarke back: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"It was a difficult one, Wilder continued. "We didn't know the extent of it against Brentford, because it happened in the game before at Rotherham. It was only after Brentford that we scanned it and tried to get to the bottom of it.

"He just thought it was a little bit of discomfort and could get through it. Which he did, and scored. It just knocked him back further. "It's been a frustrating one for us and Leon, but fingers crossed he will be in the group who goes down to Ipswich."

United will enter the meeting with Ipswich ranked fifth in the table, 19 places and 23 points above their opponents who are bottom of the Championship.

Leon Clarke was Sheffield United's leading goalscorer last season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage