Adams hoping for smooth ride as absences bite

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MICKY Adams hopes preparations for tomorrow’s visit to Crystal Palace will go smoothly after complaining a spate of injuries and illness have contributed to Sheffield United’s poor showing in the Championship table.

Adams, whose side would jump out of the relegation zone if they beat Dougie Freedman’s side, made his feelings clear after Tuesday’s draw with Reading.

Having been forced to withdraw Shane Lowry and Ched Evans from his starting 11 - the latter after he was taken ill for the second time in the space of a fortnight - the United manager said: “That’s one of the things that’s really causing us a problem. We’ve never been able to name a settled side so hopefully that’s going to change shortly.

“It’s the same in the week too. We’ve not been able to work on things as we would like because people haven’t been available. Obviously that creates problems.”

Lowry, who succumbed to a thigh strain in midweek, was replaced by former Palace favourite Johnny Ertl at the heart of defence.

Sam Vokes, whose loan move from Wolverhampton Wanderers was hurried through when news of Evans’s situation broke at Shirecliffe, is expected to spearhead United’s attack in the capital.

Fellow loanee Bjorn Helge Riise, who impressed during a 25-minute second-half cameo, could be promoted to Adams’ first-choice 11.

Riise’s Fulham teammate, Kagisho Dikigacoi, a South African international, has completed a temporary transfer to Palace.

“He’s experienced and he’s played in England for a while now so he’s adapted to that,” Palace manager Freedman said.

“He’s an athletic player who can sit in the midfield and add experience and presence for us in there.”

Dikigacoi added: “I know this is a very intensive league so I’m looking forward to the game. It’s been a very interesting week and getting games should be good for me.”

Meanwhile, Jamie Ward has completed his much-anticipated move to Derby County. The United winger will spend the rest of the season on loan at Pride Park before signing a permanent deal.

“We’ve been in the hunt for a striker with pace,” County manager Nigel Clough said. “And we believe we have just that with Jamie.”