Ched Evans is set to make his long-awaited return to action against Preston North End on Saturday after Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, dismissed suggestions he is being lined-up for a loan move away from Bramall Lane.
A number of clubs, including Championship rivals Bolton Wanderers, have reportedly been monitoring Evans’ situation in recent weeks as he continues his rehabilitation following injury.
But Wilder, who also confirmed midfielder Mark Duffy is poised to sign a new extended contract at Bramall Lane, insisted the centre-forward is going nowhere despite James Wilson’s recent arrival in South Yorkshire.
“There has been a few enquiries about a few of the boys, which I would imagine will speed up in the next couple of days,” Wilder said. “I imagine a couple of boys will go out of the building, but there is no plan for Ched to leave. We are trying to get the group nice and strong, balanced, ready for - hopefully - an exciting second part of the season.”
Evans, aged 29, has played only nine times since rejoining United from Chesterfield during the close season but impressed Wilder by volunteering for duty earlier this term despite requiring ankle surgery. Having represented the development squad twice in recent weeks, Evans could enjoy his first taste of senior football since September when Alex Neil’s side visit United in the FA Cup fourth round.
Ched possibly could play, he played 60 minutes on Monday night,” Wilder said. “His recovery is going well and we will see how he is going into the weekend. There’s a possibility that Ched could be involved.”
Unlike Evans, Ben Heneghan, Nathan Thomas, Samir Carruthers and Caolan Lavery, who is understood to interest Rotherham United, have been made available for loan transfers ahead of next week’s deadline. Shrewsbury Town are thought to be keen on forcing through a permanent deal for Thomas and, although Wilder has no immediate desire to sell, he admitted: “There’s been talk. We’ll discuss and consider everything.
“There’s a balancing of the books that has to happen, and the thing about numbers too, but it’s a fluid situation. I have to make sure we’re protected.”