he’s only started one game in four months. But could James Beattie still have a pivotal part to play in Sheffield United’s promotion denouement?
On the evidence so far, it may not last all that long because so many of his Blades appearances have been cameos towards the end of a game.
But with United’s season likely to be extended beyond this weekend, it is possible there may be a bigger opportunity for Beattie to make a really meaningful impact if it is to be the League One Play-offs.
This is not least because of the depletion to United’s striker resources with Ched Evans ruled out and Will Hoskins ruling himself out of any further involvement.
Fortunately for manager Danny Wilson, Richard Cresswell, typically, offered to battle through the pain barrier after suffering shoulder damage.
However, Beattie has been thrust up the pecking order and it was his impact as a late sub against Stevenage last Saturday - a goal assist and a very late goalbound effort blocked - which indicated what he can provide.
To have someone of his experience and proven ability could be invaluable if and when the season gets extended. Even as an impact sub.
When United’s record signing (at £4m) pitched up for a second time last December, it met with huge approval from the fans but he had a considerable way to go in terms of match fitness.
With Evans and Cresswell forming a formidable front partnership anyway, there was no way in nor any need to rush him in.
He got a few minutes here and a few there, disastrously ending one of those late appearances by getting sent off at Charlton.
Then, when he did start at home to Scunthorpe on February 29, he didn’t enjoy a great 45 minutes and was taken off at half-time. Since then it’s been back to the subs’ appearances.
It seems unlikely that Beattie, 34, will be earmarked for 90 minute outings in view of the fact he hasn’t done one in the four months he has been back at Bramall Lane.
But, with his physicality and a heading ability useful in his own area as well, no full game doesn’t mean he won’t have a significant role to play somehow in the immediate future and last Saturday’s 15 minutes cameo showed the sort of impact he can have.