Sheffield United’s hopes of forcing themselves into the automatic promotion positions have received a major boost after it was revealed Kieron Freeman, who left the pitch on a stretcher during last weekend’s win over Ipswich Town, could return to action before the end of the year.
United had feared the defender was set to miss the rest of the season after tests confirmed he had dislocated a knee cap following a collision with team mate Cameron Carter-Vickers during the closing stages of the first-half.
Although Chris Wilder acknowledged doctors have yet to ascertain the full extent of Freeman’s injury, he said:
“Kieron will only be out for six to eight weeks, which is really good news.
He’s got another scan, because there is still a little bit of swelling and they need to test the ligament on the side of his knee. It’s exceeded all our hopes, because the fear is when you dislocate your knee there’s all sorts of damage.”
According to NHS guidelines, Freeman’s leg will be initially be immobilised in a splint before the 25-year-old undergoes a course of physiotherapy to “strengthen the muscles that stabilise” the knee cap.
“The patella (kneecap) normally sits over the front of the knee,” they continue. “It glides over a groove in the joint when you bend or straighten your leg. When the kneecap dislocates, it comes out of this groove and the supporting tissues can be stretched or torn.”
United midfielder Paul Coutts was ruled-out for 11 months after suffering the same injury while playing for Derby County four years ago. However, despite describing Freeman’s prognosis as “excellent news”, Wilder could be forced to tweak his preferred 3-5-2 system for Saturday’s meeting with Reading given that fellow wing-back George Baldock will also miss the game due to a calf problem.
Wilder, whose side climbed to third in the table - two points behind leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers - after beating the visitors from Portman Road, said: “With a ruptured knee, I think Coutts was out for the season. So we’re delighted, in a strange sort of way, with what we’ve been told about Kieron.”