Sheffield United midfielders Florent Cuvelier and Stefan Scougall will travel to Rochdale tomorrow, Nigel Adkins has confirmed.
Adkins, speaking at the Steelphalt Academy earlier today, revealed he expects both players to be at his disposal for a match which could see the visitors move to within a point of the League One play-off positions.
Cuvelier made his first senior appearance for United in over a year as a second-half substitute against Port Vale last weekend and, according to Adkins, has reported no ill-effects following that 29 minute cameo.
“Flo is good to go,” he said. “He came on the other day and we’re pleased with that.
“He’s had a sustained period of training and his attitude has been bang on. It’s like having a new player for us. It was a good win and it’s pleasing that he’s in and around it.”
Cuvelier, a former Belgium under-21 international, could emerge as a pivotal figure in United’s plans over the coming weeks as Adkins looks to fill the void created by Jose Baxter’s suspension. Adkins again refused to be drawn on the matter this afternoon - “There is a process to go through. The club issued a statement and I’m not going to say anything further” - but The Star understands Baxter tested positive for a prohibited recreational substance ahead of the victory over Vale.
Scougall, whose situation is being monitored by Portsmouth, has not made a first team appearance since December 13 but Adkins, the United manager, said: “Stefan, like Flo, might have been involved last week but he had a little bit of an injury.
“He’ll want to be involved, he’s coming to Rochdale with us. Ryan (Flynn) has done ever so well over the last couple of weeks too. He missed the entirety of pre-season with us because of his Achilles.”
Adkins, who expressed fears that centre-half David Edgar could miss the crucial Bank Holiday fixture programme due to his international commitments with Canada, will be reticent to alter a winning formula as United attempt to close the four point gap separating them from sixth place. That could grow to six if Southend overcome Port Vale tonight. Academy graduate Ben Whiteman has also trained with United’s senior professionals this week after impressing at under-21 level this term.
Rochdale, in 16th, are managed by former Barnsley chief Keith Hill. Adkins conceded United will start the match as favourites - “We’ll be expected to win because of the stature of our football club” - but conceded a series of factors could alter the dynamic of the game.
“Keith’s sides play good football in the right manner,” Adkins said. “Keith is studious. I did my Pro Licence with him.
“They’ve done a great job, Rochdale, Keith has done a fantastic job. The pitch will be interesting and Keith will no doubt come out with some interesting comments too. The way they’ll view it is they’ve got nothing to lose.”
“I’ve changed things around this week and we are pleased with the training,” Adkins added. “We’ve changed the work days, done a few afternoon sessions, and even the press day. You need that stimulus at times. You don’t want that Groundhog Day feeling.”