Chris Wilder expects Sheffield United striker Ched Evans to be sidelined for up to six weeks before he returns to training after his ankle operation.
The Blades boss will not rush the striker’s return to first-team action, and admits he will have to curb Evans’s enthusiasm to get back on the training pitch.
The 28-year-old Welshman has featured nine times for United since his switch from Chesterfield this summer, but has been playing with a long-standing ankle problem.
“He’s non-weight bearing at the moment, so I think he is out playing golf,” smiled Wilder.
“Trying to keep him on track will be a difficult one, on the injury front, because he is very enthusiastic and is desperate to get back.
“We are going to have to be careful and not rush him back.
“Once we have got over the issue, which has been a long-standing one - cleaned that part of his ankle - he’ll be raring to go.
“He will be out four to six weeks, then he has to get himself back out on the grass and get back up to speed.”
Better news for United though, means George Baldock could return for next week’s Reading game, but he will miss Saturday’s visit of Ipswich Town due to a calf injury.
His spot will be taken by wing-back Kieron Freeman, who returns from a three-game absence due to a rib injury.
“George Baldock is available for next week, so he misses out on Saturday,” confirmed Wilder.
“It wasn’t as bad as what we first feared it would be.
“He has done outstandingly well, coming back into the team, but Kieron is available so that soothes the pain of missing George.
“I have just given our team away in a heartbeat. There’s not going to be many changes in our team, they have done very well.
“We have come through a difficult period, the players we have missed have weakened us a little bit.
“But the performances and results have been outstanding. I will be delighted when I have a full squad to pick from, and we are getting close to it. That’s good news for everybody.”