The big dilemma Sheffield United face over Sander Berge, who might have just played his last match for the club

Reports that Sander Berge could have played his last game for Sheffield United are wide of the mark, caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom has insisted, despite confirming the midfielder is in danger of missing the remainder of the season through injury.

Berge, who is expected to leave Bramall Lane this summer following United’s relegation from the Premier League, has been receiving treatment for an unspecified complaint ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Everton at the Steelphalt Academy this week.

The Norway international only returned to action earlier this month having undergone hamstring surgery before Christmas.

Stressing he has not suffered a recurrence of that issue, Heckingbottom stressed Berge could feature against Carlo Ancelotti’s side if United’s medical staff are satisfied with his progress. Should they fail to do so, Heckingbottom explained the 23-year-old will still have a chance of facing either Newcastle on Wednesday or next weekend’s final match of the 2020/21 fixture schedule - when United will kiss goodbye to the top-flight with a home match against Burnley.

“We won’t take risks with Sander but let me stress, it’s nothing to do with his injury previously,” Heckingbottom said. “That’s 100 per cent fine. We’re delighted with that.

“He’s been out so long and pushing himself. He’s picked up one of those natural little niggles, which happen when you push yourself along.”

Although Heckingbottom declined invitations to divulge the nature of Berge’s complaint, players returning from long lay-offs frequently suffer muscle strains soon after being thrust back into action.

Signed from Genk midway through last term, Berge’s ambition to play Champions League football again after representing the Belgian’s in the competition meant United always knew it was unlikely he would complete his four-and-a-half year contract. Surrendering their top-flight status is likely to hasten Berge’s departure, with Arsenal being encouraged to submit a bid and Aston Villa also thought to be monitoring his situation in South Yorkshire.

Sander Berge in action against Crystal Palace last weekend: Simon Bellis/ Sportimage

As The Star reported last month, United want to receive around a 60 percent return on the £22m they paid to acquire Berge.

“Because of where we are and what’s happened, we’re not going to do anything daft,” stressed Heckingbottom, referring to Berge’s involvement on Merseyside. “But if he’s okay to play, then he will.”