Sheffield United: Blades can’t wait for Neill Collins return

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SHEFFIELD United could decide to accelerate Neill Collins’ return from injury following Danny Wilson’s admission that his absence has dented the League One’s club’s bid for automatic promotion.

Wilson, speaking after last weekend’s draw with Notts County, suggested United would not have conceded a late equaliser at Meadow Lane had either Collins or Matt Hill been available for selection.

Although Hill’s rehabilitation from a broken jaw is still at the embryonic stage, Collins has been fitted with a mask to protect the cheekbone he fractured against Scunthorpe last year.

Wilson insisted the Scot is unlikely to return for “at least three weeks” before yesterday’s visit to Bury was postponed. But that timescale could be reviewed should United lose further ground on leaders Tranmere and Doncaster Rovers.

Bramall Lane’s medical staff prefer to coax long-term absentees back into action with a series of Professional Development League appearances before handing them the green light to feature at senior level.

However, should the weather continue to wreak havoc with the under-21 fixture calendar, United are likely to ‘road test’ Collins during a behind closed doors friendly.

Meanwhile, former United goalkeeper Steve Simonsen’s contract with Preston North End has been cancelled by mutual consent.

Simonsen made 17 appearances for Preston.