Sheffield United: Boss will not say sorry for hardline Wallace stance

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Nigel Adkins has made no apology for refusing James Wallace permission to play for Shrewsbury Town tonight.

The Sheffield United midfielder joined Micky Mellon’s side on loan earlier this season but must sit-out the fixture at Greenhous Meadow despite Adkins’ admission, soon after the move was announced, that he was “in real need” of games.

Adkins said: “I always stipulate, whenever someone leaves in those circumstances, that they can’t take part against us. It’s only fair on us and, to be honest, it’s only fair on the player concerned as well. There’s no doubt about what the situation is because it’s all addressed, all covered, before they are allowed to go out. That point is always made very clearly.”

Wallace, aged 24, has been troubled by a series of fitness issues since joining United from Tranmere Rovers two years ago and, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season, faces an anxious wait to discover if it will be extended given Adkins’ preference for “robust players capable of playing 40 off games a season.” Despite concerns about his durability, the former Everton trainee is regarded as potentially one of the most gifted talents in the Football League and has been capped by both England and the Republic of Ireland at youth level.

“We’ve sent a few lads out to get some minutes under their belt and we want them all to do well,” Adkins said. “It’s been frustrating that Kieron (Freeman) has not really played at Portsmouth. Sparky (Marc McNulty) has been in and off the bench down there a little bit lately but he’s scored a fair few goals which is good.

“We’ve got a big squad and these lads needs to be playing. Every footballer is the same.”

United, who beat Chesterfield on Saturday, are ninth in the table while Shrewsbury sit one place and two points above the relegation zone after drawing with Bradford City last weekend. Mellon could recall Nathaniel Knight-Percival following suspension and, with fellow centre-half Zak Whitbread confirming his recovery from injury, Adkins said: “This will be a tough game, we know that.”