Sheffield United: 'It will help us is David McGoldrick plays for Ireland'
Towards the end of last week, when it emerged David McGoldrick could be granted permission to represent his country despite being ruled-out of their team's visit to Watford, some Sheffield United supporters expressed concerns about both the wisdom and the fairness of that decision.
Why, they asked, should a player not fit enough to take part in a Premier League fixture be allowed to link-up with the Republic of Ireland? Would it not be better, surely, for the centre-forward to remain in England as he recovers from injury rather than be exposed to both the mental and the physical stress of a European Championship qualifier?
Chris Wilder, the United manager, understands that argument. Indeed, if his relationship with Mick McCarthy was not quite so tight, he is unlikely to have entertained the idea. But speaking after McGoldrick sat out the goalless draw at Vicarage Road, Wilder shed further light in why he would be happy for the 31-year-old to continue his rehabilitation in Dublin instead of the Steelphalt Academy.
"We're in communication with Mick, the Republic of Ireland their medical staff," Wilder said. "David might have to go over for them to take a look at him. If he's ready to be involved, then he will be. We want him to be involved because he's missed a few games. But we still have to clear him and there will be sensible decisions made by everyone."
Despite seeing his finishing come under scrutiny after missing a series of opportunities, McGoldrick remains an important part of Wilder's top-flight survival strategy. Indeed, his technique, movement off the ball and ability to execute passes others even struggle to see could have helped United unlock a stubborn Watford defence on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking before the trip to Hertfordshire, Wilder confirmed McGoldrick was only days away from completing his recovery after being injured during last month's defeat by Southampton. With Arsenal next on the agenda, United hope the former Ipswich Town striker will not only be available for selection but - if he does report for duty with McCarthy's squad - match sharp as well.
"He's been running and doing bits of training," Wilder said. "We'll see how he goes but he's close, yes."