Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins says the likes of John Brayford, Terry Kennedy and Ryan Flynn “will be like new players” when they fully complete their injury rehabilitation.
The Blades boss, whose side progressed in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy after a penalty shoot-out win at Hartlepool on Tuesday evening, missed the kick off at Victoria Park as he attempted, in vain, to seal a permanent transfer deal before the 6pm deadline.
Adkins will redouble his efforts to bolster United’s squad when the emergency loan window opens next week, but his frustration was tempered somewhat by Flynn and Kennedy making first-team returns following Achilles and knee injuries respectively.
Flynn, who scored United’s opener against the League Two side, played 72 minutes while defender Kennedy was withdrawn with five minutes remaining.
Brayford, meanwhile, is understood to be ahead of schedule in his own return from injury and Adkins said: “I was delighted for Terry and Ryan, to get back out there again. The JPT gives us a good chance to give players some game-time, and it gives them a good chance to get fit and show why they should be in my plans.
“As well as that, we’ve got a lot of players still to come back over the next few months so there’ll be renewed competition for places, which is good.
“There’s some real talent there that I’ve not yet really had chance to utilise, and it’ll be like having some brand new players in the building.
“So I’m really excited about that; it’s something to really look forward to.”