Jose Baxter will be allowed to rebuild his career at Bramall Lane during the second half of the League One season.
The Sheffield United midfielder has not made a first team appearance for nearly five weeks after being disciplined following an off-the-pitch incident last month.
But, contrary to reports, The Star understands that United will not sell the 23-year-old. Instead Baxter, who has taken part in a number of community initiatives during his absence, is likely to be offered the chance to regain a place in Nigel Adkins’ starting eleven. Another breach of protocol, however, is likely to have serious consequences for Baxter’s future prospects.
Adkins, whose side resumes its bid for promotion when Bradford City visit South Yorkshire today, refused to elaborate on either the nature of Baxter’s offence or the punishment involved before United’s recent FA Cup victory over his former club Oldham.
Describing Baxter as a “pivotal figure,” he told the media: “Everyone is well aware I am very strong on discipline at the football club. If someone steps out of line, they get disciplined and that’s what we have done with Jose on this situation.”
“We have done it with other players in the past,” Adkins continued. “It’s put to bed from our point of view, no more further comments, and we get on. We have talked about it, had our own review of what’s gone on, and Jose has been disciplined.”
Baxter, who started his career at Everton, was handed a five month suspension, three of those suspended, after failing a routine out-of-competition drugs test towards the end of last term. He maintained his drink had been spiked with ecstasy during a night out in London and the relatively light punishment suggests the authorities found Baxter’s explanation credible.
United, meanwhile, will again be without Che Adams for the meeting with City. The England under-20 international had been due to complete a three match ban against Wigan Athletic on Boxing Day but the match at the DW Stadium was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch and local flooding.