Gary Madine still has a future at Sheffield Wednesday insists head coach Stuart Gray.
The striker yesterday joined former club Carlisle United on loan for the remainder of the season in a bid to get fit after serving just over four months of an 18-month prison sentence.
The 23-year-old has played several Under-21 games for Wednesday, but Gray hopes a spell of first-team action in Cumbria will help the striker in preparation for next season.
“He’s Sheffield Wednesday’s player. I have done it for the right reasons, to get him match sharpness, then come back pre-season and hopefully he can hit the ground running,” said Gray.
“The most important thing is getting him back to what we know he can do. He needs to be playing regular football, and we can’t give him that opportunity here with Leon (Best) playing so well.
“We have Atdhe (Nuhiu), Chris Maguire, Caolan Lavery that can play down the middle. We just want him to get match sharpness, get some football into him. You can train every day on the training pitch, but you need that match intensity.
“That’s why we have allowed Gary to go out, get some confidence and hopefully score some goals.
“He is familiar with Carlisle, he has played over 50 games for them in the past, so this is a good opportunity for him.
“I just think it’s the amount of football that he has missed. He has bulked up in prison, been on the weights circuit, but it was just that general match sharpness. It’s like anybody who has come back from a long-term injury, it’s just getting the minutes in.”
Madine was an £800,00 buy from Carlisle in 2011, and believes his spell in prison has helped him mature.
He said: “I regret a lot of things I have done but I am a grown-up now. Maybe (prison) was a blessing in disguise – I got carried away with myself in my younger days and I’m hoping it’s all behind me now and I can be a better person. I’m really grateful to have another chance to get my career back on track.”
Madine played for Carlisle from 2007 to 2011, and trained with the club – currently struggling in League One – in September prior to being sentenced. United manager Graham Kavanagh kept in touch with Madine while the player was in prison and was keen to sign the striker.
Midfielder David Prutton yesterday joined Coventry City on loan until the summer.