Sheffield United: Ismaila Coulibaly loan plan is revised

Sheffield United have warned Ismaila Coulibaly to expect some “set-backs” in his battle for fitness, with Paul Heckingbottom revealing they have yet to set a date for the midfielder’s comeback.
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Having spent the first two years of his career with United on loan at their sister club Beerschot, Coulibaly has yet to make his competitive debut in English football after undergoing knee surgery earlier this term.

Paul Heckingbottom, the United manager, told The Star that the 21-year-old is making progress behind the scenes but explained: “I just want to make sure that he’s okay. That’s the most important thing, first and foremost.

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“We know that we're going to get a few ups and downs with him, as we increase the load on him and he deals with the stresses of that. The most important thing at this stage is making sure he’s fine and ready to be involved.”

Capped by Mali at under-20 level, Coulibaly joined United from Sarpsborg before heading to Antwerp. Like United, the Belgians are owned by Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who also controls teams in India, France and Dubai. However the Saudi Arabian national is locked in talks about selling his stake at Bramall Lane.

Coulibaly was recalled from Beerschot when it became clear he would not qualify for a work permit in England following their relegation from the Jupiler Pro League.

“We’re not even thinking about him playing yet, just getting him right,” said Heckingbottom, who had considered allowing Coulibaly to leave on loan next month in order to accelerate his recovery. “That’s the stage we’re at, but he’s coming on.”