United enter tomorrow’s match at Molineux 18 points adrift of safety with only seven games of the season remaining, following a punishing campaign which has seen them lose all but six of their 31 outings so far.
Having cited injuries as a major factor behind United’s miserable form, Heckingbottom confirmed Berge returned to full training earlier this week as he closes in on a return to action following a serious hamstring injury which has kept him out of action for four months.
Despite acknowledging the significance of the fixture, however, Heckingbottom insisted United would be betraying their commitment to putting the Norway international’s wellbeing first if they risked selecting him before being properly cleared by medical staff.
“With the nature of the injury, Sander, we have to make sure he is okay to tick that box,” Heckingbottom said. “Sander has done everything for the last three days. This week, he’s been involved in all the football. All the games, all the contact work so that’s good to see.
“But he has to be passed properly. He’s a very good player. But we can’t have him breaking down because we haven’t gone through the process.”
Berge has not featured for United since December, joining the likes of Jack O’Connell on their list of long-term absentees. Chris Basham is also out of the visit to Molineux, as he struggles to overcome an injury sustained during United’s trip to Fulham while Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp were this week ruled out for the season with tendon and foot complaints respectively.
Midfielder John Fleck is also a doubt for the game, after reported discomfort in his groin during last weekend’s defeat by Arsenal.
“I’ve been saying for ages that it would be great to have all the players back and ready,” said Heckingbottom, confirming that Jack Robinson is also making progress in his own battle for fitness.
“With Sander, it’s a case of building him up now because he’s been out for a very long time, and when that’s the case you always have to be careful.”