SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson says there are ‘no massive wage demands’ blocking James Beattie’s return to the club.
Former England international Beattie, a free agent since leaving Rangers last summer, is training with the Blades with a view to signing a short-term deal.
Beattie collected around £35,000 a week during his last spell with the club four years ago but is now willing to play for a fraction of that amount in return for a first-team opportunity.
The Blades, who this week announced annual losses of £13.6m, have debts of £32m and are no longer in a position to pay top wages following relegation to League One.
However, the proposed deal suits both parties and echoes a strategy Doncaster Rovers have adopted to lure big names, including El-Hadji Diouf and Pascal Chimbonda to South Yorkshire.
Beattie will play no part in today’s home game with Carlisle United due to his lack of match fitness.
“James knows the situation at the club and wants to come which is good enough for me,” said Wilson yesterday. “There are no massive wage demands from the boy whatsoever. He just wants to come and play football which is fantastic.
“If we can get someone in of that quality, who is fully fit, it is a no-brainer. It’s a fantastic opportunity for everyone concerned.
“Nothing is set in stone yet and we want to get him to a certain level of fitness where he can compete – he is nowhere near there at the moment but he knows that.
“We will give him an intense training programme and see how it goes in the next week or so. It’s an open-ended agreement but he loved it here last time around and everyone to a man took to the boy.
“Clubs will only watch a player when he is playing,” added Wilson. “If someone else can do the work and put him on the pitch, other people will start to take notice. A player of his calibre and experience will be very much sought after but I’d like to think that we will be in a strong position to keep him here.”
The Blades were given another boost this week when Austrian international defender Johnny Ertl returned to competitive action in the reserves after eight months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury.
Ertl, who can play full-back, centre-back or central midfield, has been added to today’s squad.
Winger Nathanial Mendez-Laing will resume his loan spell from Wolves next week after recovering from hamstring trouble.