United wait to play their joker

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DANNY Wilson last night admitted it would have been impossible for Sheffield United not to sign James Beattie after learning the former England striker wanted to return to Bramall Lane.

And Wilson, who secured Beattie’s services on a short-term contract earlier this week, is backing his latest acquisition to prove an influential figure both on and off the pitch as the South Yorkshire club attempts to regain its Championship status at the first attempt.

Wilson said: “When the opportunity arises to bring in someone of James’ calibre then it’s not something that you ignore.

“The absolute bonus, as far as we are concerned at least, is the fact that he’s so well-respected within the group of players that we’ve already got here and he’s a cult hero with the fans. The deal, from our perspective, was one that we just could not turn down.”

Beattie, who scored 34 goals in 65 appearances after arriving from Everton in 2007, is unlikely to feature at Chesterfield today, with Wilson admitting: “The one thing James needs is games and unfortunately that’s not something you can take a pill for.

“We’ll be organising some behind-closed-doors friendlies for him because the reserve schedule can be very intermittent.

“We don’t want to throw him in too early and then see him break down.”

But the 33-year-old is still expected to make his presence felt behind the scenes when fifth-placed United resume their League One campaign at the B2net Stadium.

“We’re actually a very quiet team with lads who show their experience by the way they play rather than being gobby but I’m hoping James can make up for that,” Wilson said.

“He knows people here from his previous spell and he’s got the banter going with them straight away. A few lads have already copped for it!”

n Blades: P43