Sheffield United boss Nigel Clough will resist the temptation to rush back Stefan Scougall until the diminutive Scot is back to full fitness, following a knee ligament injury.
Scougall damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in United’s FA Cup replay defeat at home to Preston North End, and has missed his side’s last nine matches as a result.
Blades boss Nigel Clough revealed, after Saturday’s 2-1 home defeat to Fleetwood Town, that Scougall is “not too far away” from a return - but he is unlikely to return in time for this weekend, when United travel to Scunthorpe United.
With loanee Jason Holt also missing with injury, Clough was forced to hand Jose Baxter an immediate recall following his three-game suspension and, with United chasing the game, was forced to bring on 20-year-old Kieran Wallace and Che Adams, aged 18.
“We need strong characters,” Clough said.
“It’s not ideal bringing teenagers on but they’ll learn from it in the long run and get the benefits which is what we want. They’ll be better for it. But, at this moment, it’s not ideal. The balance of the midfield has been affected by the lads we’ve got out.”
Meanwhile Scougall, speaking to United’s matchday programme, revealed he still hopes to play a big part in the remainder of his side’s season: “Things are moving along nicely with my rehabilitation at the moment,” the 22-year-old former Livingston man said.
“It is still pretty slow progress but we are getting there and hopefully, I can still have a big part to play in the last four to six weeks of the season. All the lads will tell you the same; the worst thing about being a professional footballer is having to watch your teammates from the stand, knowing there is nothing you can do to help. You sit in the stand wondering what you would have done in a situation, or wishing that you could have played in that game, but football is a squad game and thankfully, we have good strength in most areas of the team.
“It is certainly needed at this stage of the campaign.”
Despite his frustrations, however, Scougall insists he has no complaints about the challenge: “The injury was a pretty serious one but it could have been worse. On reflection, I was too brave in the heat of the moment and went for a ball that wasn’t mine to win.
“The odds were stacked against me but I still committed myself. In the end I was at full stretch and because my leg was just hanging there at the moment of impact, my knee took all the force of the tackle. The tackle was a fair one... I have no complaints on that score.
“The tackle damaged my ACL and, at first, we feared I may need surgery. That would of course have ended my season there and then, as we would have been looking at months, rather than weeks.
“Thankfully, though, it has settled down.”
“I have gradually been increasing my workload,” Scougall added.
“The effects of that are starting to show, and I feel good.
“My knee feels stronger each day but I know I just have to keep my head down and trust the medical team. They know best and will hopefully minimise my time out.”