Players urged to bounce back from cup defeat

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DANNY Wilson, the Sheffield United manager, has challenged his players to issue a statement of intent at Colchester.

Saturday’s match at the Weston Homes Community Stadium sees the visitors return to League One action following last weekend’s FA Cup outing against Birmingham City.

The fourth-round defeat by Chris Hughton’s side marked the end of United’s interest in knockout competition this season.

Wilson said: “Now we are fully focused on the league. There are no other distractions and we can invest everything in that.

“We didn’t want to get beaten (by Birmingham) but if anything comes out of it then hopefully our focus will be even more intense.”

James Beattie serves the second game of his three-match ban when United make their debut at a ground which opened only four years ago.

However, the former England international is scheduled to spend the remainder of the week undergoing a gruelling fitness programme designed to ensure he enjoys a more prominent role in Wilson’s plans between now and the end of the campaign.

United, whose home fixture with Chesterfield on March 24 has been postponed due to the visitors involvement in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Final, plan to arrange a series of behind-closed-doors friendlies to accelerate Beattie’s progress.

They entertained Doncaster Rovers at Shirecliffe last week but the centre-forward was forced to withdraw due to a combination of injury and illness. “We’ve got a few things planned for James and he definitely won’t be resting,” Wilson, who has steered United into promotion contention, said.