Blades boss in warning to rivals

Jose Baxter
Jose Baxter
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Manager Nigel Clough has warned Sheffield United’s League One rivals that his side are still to hit top gear, as they await the return from injury of some of their top stars.

United, who remain fifth in the table following Tuesday evening’s 1-1 draw at Walsall, welcomed back Jose Baxter, Ryan Flynn and Mark Howard at the Banks’s Stadium, while defender Chris Basham - arguably their most improved player of the campaign so far - will return to the side this weekend for the visit of Port Vale.

Basham missed two matches due to suspension, while goalkeeper Howard has been suffering with a long-standing back complaint and Flynn damaged a hamstring.

Baxter, who missed three games due to his own suspension before dropping to the bench last weekend against Scunthorpe, marked his return to the side with a sublime opener at Walsall, before Ashley Grimes’ header denied Clough’s side all three points.

And the United boss said: “I thought it was a wonderful goal from Jose.

“Right from when he turned in the centre circle in the manner he did.

“It showed excellent awareness and the finish was special, too. But that’s what he’s capable of doing.

“He missed the game before and so he was ready for some football.

“We’ve got a few lads coming back, or at least closer to coming back now, which is good.

“Mark was obviously out there [at Walsall] and Ryan got a run out, too.”

Paul Coutts missed out at Walsall with injury but could return on Saturday to face Vale, managed by former Blades hero Rob Page.

Louis Reed, meanwhile, has been shortlisted by the Football League for the Sky Bet League One LFE Apprentice of the Year award. The 17-year-old has also been called up to the England U18 squad to face Switzerland later this month.