Mark Howard last night expressed relief that the back injury which has been troubling him in recent weeks is not as serious as first thought, writes James Shield.
The Sheffield United goalkeeper feared surgery would be required to correct the problem but, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game at Leyton Orient, he told The Star that no longer features on his close season agenda.
“I’m lucky that I don’t need an operation on my back or anything like that,” Howard said. “It’s been a case of getting fit as I’ve gone along.
“It’s been difficult sometimes because I’ve not always trained much before going into the team but that’s football. I’d sooner be in it than not.
“When you are playing regularly, though, it is easier of course.”
Howard is set to make his seventh consecutive appearance for United at the Matchroom Stadium after the complaint forced him to miss last month’s victory over Scunthorpe. A repeat performance would guarantee Nigel Clough’s side a place in the League One play-offs despite making the journey south having failed to win its previous three outings.
While United are fifth - six points clear of Rochdale in seventh with two fixtures remaining - Orient are fighting for survival at the opposite end of the table less than a year after contesting promotion at Wembley.
“Leyton Orient need to win,” Howard said. “They are always a tough team no matter what.
“We need to win and then that’s it. We know a draw would be enough but we want to go there and win.
“Obviously we are desperate to get over the line and cement our place. We’ve had a few frustrating games of late and things have not gone our way.
“Some of the goals conceded have been disappointing but that’s football. You just get on with it.”
Howard added: “Our whole season has been a bit inconsistent. We know that and if we can rectify it then good.
“Every game is totally different though. You can prepare until the cows come home and then the opposition go and set-up completely differently or a man gets sent-off after a minute. It’s difficult to do specific things to try and bring that back. You just have to work hard and prepare well.”