Nigel Adkins might have expressed reservations about the strength of character possessed by certain members of his squad but those concerns do not stretch to Alex Baptiste.
The defender, who joined Sheffield United on emergency loan from Middlesbrough last week, made his debut for the League One club against Burton Albion last week after recovering from a serious leg injury sustained during a pre-season friendly at York City.
“Alex’s character references are top drawer, he’s gone through the divisions and ended up in the Premier League,” Adkins told The Star.
“There’s a grit and resilience about him. You can see that through what he’s achieved and what he’s come through during his career, no question.”
Although Adkins submitted three bids for Fulham centre-half Dan Burn during the recent transfer window, the United manager revealed the Londoners’ refusal to do business was not the catalyst for Baptiste’s arrival in South Yorkshire.
Adkins said: “I tried to sign him at Scunthorpe when he was at Mansfield. We’ve tracked him since then, and what he’s done shows what is possible if you have that work ethic and desire. It’s an example for everybody.”
Baptiste, aged 30, was also monitored by former Blades boss Neil Warnock after progressing through the ranks in Nottinghamshire before helping Blackpool reach the top flight six years ago.
Having later joined Bolton Wanderers, he is thought to have commanded a fee in excess of £1.5 million after becoming Aitor Karanka’s first close-season signing last summer.
“Alex hasn’t had much football but he’s shown what he can bring to us,” Adkins said. “Crucially, for me, he’s been moving well on the pitch and he’s got that assertiveness you want to see.”