Blades’ returning hero sets his immediate goal

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JAMES Beattie is backing himself to score goals when Sheffield United decide to let the former England striker off the leash.

And Beattie, who completed an emotional return to Bramall Lane earlier this week after three months in the footballing wilderness, last night admitted he wants to remain in South Yorkshire beyond the duration of his initial short-term deal.

Beattie, who watched United’s recent victory over Carlisle from the stands, said: “The lads here create chances. I’ve seen them do it.

“If some of them fall my way then I’ll back myself to put them away.”

United, whose League One campaign resumes at Chesterfield today, fought off competition from Southampton, Blackpool and Bournemouth to acquire Beattie’s services following his release by Glasgow Rangers.

Despite being contracted to Danny Wilson’s squad only until mid-January, the 33-year-old said: “We’ll wait and see how things go but the gaffer told me that if they do go well then he’d like to keep me. I’m definitely of the same mind.”

Beattie scored 34 goals in 65 appearances after becoming United’s record signing in 2007 before joining Stoke City 17 months later.

But, with injuries hampering his progress at both the Britannia Stadium and Ibrox, he is unlikely to feature at the B2net Stadium despite receiving a clean bill of health from medical staff at Shirecliffe.

“I told the gaffer I’d go straight back in but he’s been a little bit more sensible than me, even though I keep trying to change his mind in training,” Beattie added.

“I’ve not had too much football in the past year or so but the flip side of that is that my joints - my ankles, knees and hips - are all in really good shape.

“I feel like a 23-year-old, never mind 33, even though I’ve just done probably the hardest week of training ever.”

Wilson described the decision to recruit Beattie as a ‘no-brainer’ given the respect he commands both behind the scenes and on the terraces at Bramall Lane.

Beattie added: “Hopefully I’ve created a little bit of a buzz by coming back, but with that comes a responsibility to score goals.”