Sheffield United: Influential defender edges closer to first team return, manager Chris Wilder reveals

Jake Wright (centre) has returned to training
Jake Wright (centre) has returned to training

Visitors to the Steelphalt Academy earlier this week will have spotted a familiar figure pounding its sparsely populated pitches.

With ten of his players, including five first team regulars, away on international duty, manager Chris Wilder has been forced to postpone the majority of Sheffield United's planning for next Saturday's visit to Derby County.

But as he waits for news on the likes of Enda Stevens and Oliver Norwood, Wilder has been monitoring the progress of someone who could yet emerge as a pivotal figure in United's campaign despite missing the opening 12 games of the season.

"Jake Wright has returned to training," Wider confirmed. "He's back out there working now.

“It's been a tough time for him, getting injured over the summer and then picking-up another one. But we all know the character Jake's got and nobody would bet against him forcing his way in."

Wright, aged 32, helped United win the League One title during his first year at Bramall Lane before making 22 appearances last term. But after fracturing a cheekbone during July's friendly against Stocksbridge Park Steels, he was then diagnosed with a back complaint.

Jake Wright suffered a serious facial injury at Stocksbridge

Jake Wright suffered a serious facial injury at Stocksbridge

Although Wright faces a battle to regain his starting role - John Egan and Richard Stearman are ahead of him in the queue if United persist with a back three - Wilder said: "I know what he's like and he'll be determined to get back out there. There's a lot of lads here, good players, who are pushing to get in."

But he has now returned to fitness

But he has now returned to fitness