SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson hopes to let Kevin McDonald, Bramall Lane’s inspirational midfielder, off the leash when the South Yorkshire club visit Notts County tomorrow.
United travel to Meadow Lane second in the League One table but ahead of third-placed Sheffield Wednesday only on goal difference following Saturday’s draw with Tranmere Rovers.
Wilson had intimated that McDonald, whose absence with a strained hamstring has been cited as the major factor behind United’s disappointing run of form, could be in line to return against Ronnie Moore’s side.
But, speaking after watching Lucas Akins’ goal cancel-out Ched Evans’ first-half opener, Wilson said: “He was never really under consideration here but we’d like to think that Kevin will be available for our final nine games. He’s got a calmness about him and that transmits itself.
“Most importantly, Macca has got the ability to probe - which is very important at this stage - he’s got two good feet and that means he can change the direction and tempo of play very quickly.
“Those are qualities any team would like to have at their disposal.”
With Wilson admitting that some slack passing - “The final ball sometimes went astray” - had contributed to a result which now means United have won just one of their last five games, McDonald’s injury can not heal quickly enough. County, who are sixth in the rankings, suffered their first defeat under new manager Keith Curle when they were beaten by Wednesday two days ago.
“The one thing we don’t want is fear and I don’t think we’ve got that,” Wilson added. “It’s all about the mental side of things now. How will we get inside their heads? We’ll talk and talk and talk.
“We did play some good stuff (against Rovers) and they key, even though it sounds hard, is going to be enjoying these last nine games.”
Despite initially appearing to rule-out re-entering the transfer market before Thursday’s deadline for emergency loan signings, Wilson told The Star he could be tempted to bolster his squad should finances permit.
“We‘ll see,” said Wilson. “I know the area, if it’s possible, where I’d like to strengthen.”