Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, last night rubbished talk of a rift with Andy Butler despite confirming he expects the defender to depart Bramall Lane during the emergency loan window, writes James Shield.
Butler interests three League One clubs, including Crewe Alexandra and former employers Walsall, after failing to command a place in United’s first team squad since leaving the Bescot Stadium earlier this summer.
But Clough, speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Rochdale, again insisted that professional rather than personal reasons explain the centre-half’s absence.
“It’s all amicable with Andy,” he said. “He’s training with the first team and if we need him then we’ll use him.
“Also, we are under no pressure financially to push anyone through the door.
“I don’t know exactly why it’s not worked out as he and we would have hoped but I think the emergence of Harrison McGahey has got as much to do with it as anything. He’s still young and he’s going to make mistakes but after being brought in primarily to be an under-21 player, Harrison has gone beyond all expectations.”
With McGahey, aged 18, set to make his eighth appearance following his transfer from Blackpool this weekend, Clough added: “We’ve got good players who we can’t get involved at the moment and, if any of the experienced lads come and say they want games, then I completely understand that.
“It’s fine for the younger ones. Louis Reed has come through the ranks and is on the bench at the moment but, for the time being, just training with the first team is enough.
“It’s different for the older lads though. And I completely sympathise with that.”