Clarke sharpening up for challenge with the Blades

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BILLY CLARKE says that he is loving life at Sheffield United and has not ruled out a permanent move to Bramall Lane.

The Blackpool striker has played three games since moving on a month’s loan with winger Matt Phillips.

Although he has yet to score, Clarke has made an impact and he laid on both goals in a 2-1 victory over Milton Keynes Dons on Tuesday that lifted the Blades to fourth in League One.

The 23-year-old missed the whole of Blackpool’s Premier League campaign with a cruciate knee ligament injury and has fallen down the pecking order at Bloomfield Road since the arrival of Kevin Phillips and former Blades striker Daniel Bogdanovic.

“It’s all about getting some regular first-team football again,” said Clarke. “I’m in the last year of my contract at Blackpool and football can change in such a short space of time that I am open-minded about my future.

“I have not got to make that decision yet so let’s see what happens,” he added. “I don’t have any qualms about stepping down a division. This may be a League One club at the moment but it is a huge club with a massive history and fantastic facilities.

“I wasn’t playing for Blackpool and the manager (Ian Holloway) asked me if I wanted to go out and get some games. Once I knew it was Sheffield United it was an easy decision to make.

“I am here to score goals and, although I have not managed to do that yet, it is good to set up goals for other people. I am sure they will come. I am really enjoying my time here and after an injury like I had, it’s just nice to be able to play again.”

Blades manager Danny Wilson confirmed that he would like to keep both Clarke and Phillips, who has scored three goals in three starts, but says that decision will be down to Blackpool.

“When I first came into this club, people were moaning about getting too many loan players in the past – but if you get the right ones in, they can be fantastic,” he said.

“Both Billy and Matt have come with the right attitude. They have a hunger to play and they are contributing to us.

“I just hope that Blackpool win every game, get promoted, and don’t want them back.

“There have been no talks yet,” he added. “Blackpool are very much in control of the situation. I don’t know how Ian Holloway is thinking. But if there’s a possibility we can keep them on we will try. In the meantime, let’s get as much out of them as we can.

“We didn’t have that type of player and they can be the difference between getting results and not. That little bit of quality and pace unsettles defenders. They proved their worth on Tuesday night.”

Both players have three more games before their loan deals expire – Exeter City and Stevenage in the league and Bradford City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Midfielder Lee Williamson missed Tuesday’s game with the shin injury suffered last weekend against Leyton Orient but scans have confirmed that he has not suffered a fracture.

Sheffield Wednesday striker Gary Madine will serve a one-match ban following his sending-off at Carlisle United.

Madine was dismissed nine minutes from the end of Tuesday’s game at Brunton Park and will miss Saturday’s trip to Wycombe.

It is a frustrating setback for the Owls, whose 3-2 defeat in the north-west saw them miss the chance to go second in the table.

Huddersfield’s 2-2 draw at Scunthorpe meant Wednesday would have climbed above their Yorkshire rivals had they taken all three points against the Cumbrians.

Madine, who spent four years at Carlisle before joining the Owls, will still be walking a tightrope on his return to action.

He has four yellow cards on his record and another booking will result in a further suspension.

However, Wednesday manager Gary Megson has defended Madine following his red card.

He felt the player was harshly treated.

“From what I saw, Gary has not touched anybody,” said Megson. “It seems he was sent off for kicking fresh air.

“Their fellows were booting Gary up hill and down dale and nothing happened to them.

“But when you come to a club you have left, your focus tends to waver a bit.”

Ryan Lowe is set to replace Madine at the weekend, joining Chris O’Grady in the Owls attack.

Rotherham United manager Andy Scott has hailed the character of his players following their comeback from 3-0 down to earn a 3-3 draw at high-flying Morecambe on Tuesday.

The Millers found themselves with a mountain to climb after conceding three goals in the opening 37 minutes – two of them to penalties.

But they successfully converted a penalty of their own through Lewis Grabban to reduce the deficit before half-time and then levelled through goals from Gareth Evans and Alex Revell after the break.

“The character of the fellows was terrific,” said Scott.

“To come back from three-down to get a point was fantastic.

“We can take a lot of positives out of our second-half performance.

“We can take a lot of confidence from the way that we played.”

However, the manager warned the Millers must learn to cut out their defensive mistakes.

The concession of another three goals followed on from the five that were haemorrhaged in their previous away game at Bristol Rovers.

“Our front players are good players but, defensively, we are having to score two, three and four goals just to win games, which we can’t always do,” he said.

“As a group, defensively, we’ve got to do better.

“We’ve drawn our last two games and we’ve only really played for 45 minutes each game.

“If we start games properly, we win them.”