Ched Evans has returned to full training with Sheffield United after missing the last four months through injury.
Speaking at the club’s pre-match press conference this morning, designed to discuss Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Ipswich Town, manager Chris Wilder confirmed the centre-forward is entering the final stage of his rehabilitation programme following ankle surgery.
“Ched is back out on the grass today,” Wilder, who also revealed David Brooks is suffering from glandular fever rather than tonsillitis, said. “He’ll need a few bounce games to get totally up to speed though. We’ll be delighted to have him back, though, because at the beginning of the season, we thought he could be a big player for us.”
Wilder, acknowledging that youngsters Regan Slater and Rhys Norrington-Davies will both be named in United’s squad for the third round tie at Portman Road, told the media Brooks’ condition has finally been diagnosed after he was taken ill before last month’s draw with Aston Villa. The Wales international, who was named man-of-the-match during September’s 4-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, now seems certain to miss next week’s return fixture between the two sides.
“David has got glandular fever,” Wilder said. “Cards on the table with that one. He won’t be fit for a couple of weeks. He’s an excellent player and when he’s back, it will be great for us.”
United have also recalled another Steelphalt Academy graduate, midfielder Ben Whiteman, from his loan spell with Doncaster Rovers. Although the 21-year-old is ineligible for the trip to Suffolk having represented Rovers in a previous round, Wilder is clearly minded to give him an opportunity after Paul Coutts was ruled-out for the rest of the campaign.
“Ben is back in training with us,” Wilder said. “We’re bringing him back, seeing how he is and how we go. Part of the experience of being in the Championship has taught us the importance of numbers.”