Sheffield United: Blades best is still to come, warns Nigel Clough as club deny Ched Evans contract claims

Marc McNulty scores for Sheffield United against Bradford
Marc McNulty scores for Sheffield United against Bradford
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Nigel Clough has warned Sheffield United’s promotion rivals that his team is still some way short of achieving its full potential despite moving ominiously up the League One table.

And Clough, who was again forced to confront questions about Ched Evans following the Wales international’s release from prison last week, admitted he could be tempted back into the transfer market if “the right opportunity” becomes available.

United climbed to seventh, six points behind second-placed Peterborough with a game in hand, after beating Bradford City and Clough told The Star: “We’re on the edge of the top six but we still don’t feel as if we’ve hit top form.

“It’s coming, slowly but surely, although we’re still nowhere near as good as we want to be yet which is encouraging.

“We brought a lot of new players in over the summer and we said all along that we wouldn’t be in a position to go flying right from the start.

“But so long as we are there or there abouts at Christmas, which we think we can be, then we’ll be satisfied because, as everyone saw last season, we know we can kick-on.”

United, who return to action against Yeovil Town tomorrow, have previously expressed an interest in Blackpool striker Steven Davies while Scott Fenwick, the Dunston UTS centre-forward, recently underwent a trial at the Redtooth Academy. Fenwick, aged 23, appeared as a second-half substitute during the Northern League Division One club’s victory over Newton Aycliffe last weekend.

Michael Higdon, the former NEC Nijmegen marksman, is available for selection for the meeting with Town but Clough also lavished praise on Marc McNulty after the youngster scored his fourth goal in six outings during United’s 2-0 success over City.

“Marc is the best finisher at the club,” Clough said. “At the moment he’s still learning but he’s coming off the bench and has the capability, definitely, to become a regular starter here.

“He can put the ball in the back of the net, no question about it, but he’s just got to work on the other aspects of his game. We’ll continue to nurture him.”

“If another striker become available then we’d take it to boost our firepower but we’ve also got Michael coming back now.

“We just need someone to finish off more of our moves but the capability to do that is also within the squad.”

Evans, who scored 48 goals in 113 appearances for United, was sentenced to five years in prison after being convicted of rape two-and-a-half years ago.

Evans, who left HMP Wymott on Friday, continues to protest his innocence and, as this newspaper revealed last week, could have his application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which examines potential miscarriages of justice, considered shortly.

United vehemently denied a story in a national newspaper on Saturday that they have offered Evans a contract and Clough, speaking after the derby with City, said: “As soon as they (the owners) have something to say they will say it. They have already denied a story today. Until we make a statement I can’t comment on it. There is nothing to comment on until the decision is made.”