AFTER being on the periphery for much of the reign of Nigel Adkins, Stefan Scougall is likely to have greeted Chris Wilder’s arrival at Sheffield United as something akin to manna from heaven.
Having ended last season on loan at Fleetwood Town, Scougall’s Bramall Lane career looked finished before the removal of Adkins.
But the decision by the Blades’ hierarchy to part company with the 51-year-old in mid-May could prove a positive for the impish midfielder.
Overlooked and unwanted by Adkins, Scougall saw the writing on the wall and resigned himself to searching for pastures new.
This experience in South Yorkshire was far removed from some intoxicating highs during the second half of 2013-14 under Adkins’s predecessor Nigel Clough when he was at the fulcrum of the side who enjoyed an exhilarating run to the FA Cup semi-finals.
But just as the Scot was preparing metaphorically to pack his bags, Wilder’s arrival has seen him pull back from the departure lounge.
Blades’ new manager has provided Scougall with some soothing words outlining that he is a firm part of his plans.
His message has certainly been well received by the 23-year-old, who started pre-season training with his team-mates yesterday.
Now, the revitalised schemer, who says that he experienced some real low points on occasions last term during his exile from the first-team fray, is eager to play a leading part in Wilder’s brave new world at S2.
Scougall, whose last Blades’ appearance came back on February 27 – his only outing for the club so far this calendar year – said: “I was overlooked by Adkins and, towards the end, I felt as if I was not getting a chance. I was not getting a sniff.
“It is tough and you can fall out of love with things.
“It was not until I went to Fleetwood that I started enjoying football again.
“It does affect you, yes, because I thought I was doing well in training, I was working hard and still not getting in.
“The best thing was to move on and that was the last words he (Adkins) said to me, which was fair enough. I did not want to go, but if you are not wanted by a manager then you need to.
“But the new man has come in and he said he is going to give me a fair chance, that he thinks I am a good player, so now I have got to go out there and prove it.
“It is up to me now. I went to Fleetwood and had something to prove. I put in a few good performances and proved, I think, that I can still play in this league.
“I do not think the new guy is the type of person to b******t. He has said what he wants from me, so I have to deliver.”
After ending 2015-16 at the Highbury Stadium, Scougall acknowledges that there was a good chance that he would have been wearing the red and white of Fleetwood and not the Blades, with Town manager Steven Pressley keen to do a deal to sign him fellow Scot on a permanent basis.
Now fate has turned in a different direction and ultimately a more welcome one for Scougall, who always maintained that his first preference was to stay at Bramall Lane.
Scougall said: “Before Adkins was sacked, there was dialogue between the two clubs. They were obviously trying to do something.
“But the (new) manager has said he wants to keep me and, in fairness, I would rather be at Sheffield United.
“It is the biggest team in League One and bigger than most in the division above so, really, it was a no-brainer.”
On the incoming front, Wilder says that he is “pretty close” to completing two more signings with several other transfer-listed players also edging towards the exit door.
During the close season, the Blades’ chief has so far brought in winger Mark Duffy and full-back Chris Hussey from Birmingham City and Bury respectively.
The club have been linked with moves for a number of players, most notably MK Dons defender and former Blades academy player Kyle McFadzean, who has asked to leave Karl Robinson’s side.
On the outgoing side, seven players, including Dean Hammond, Martyn Woolford and Paul Coutts, had been placed on the transfer list.
Middlesbrough target Marten de Roon is expected to fly to England for a medical this week, ahead of a €14m move from Serie A outfit Atlanta.
The 25-year-old Dutch midfielder is wanted by Serie A Napoli, but has set his sights on a move to the Premier League.
Hull City midfielder Tom Huddlestone is set to sign a two-year contract extension this week.
Sheffield Wednesday will host Portuguese side Benfica in their marquee pre-season friendly at Hillsborough on July 20 (7.45pm). The Owls head to Portugal the following day for a six-day pre-season camp. Their stay will include a game with CD Nacional on July 24 in Albufeira.
Rotherham United defender Kirk Broadfoot has agreed a new two-year deal that will be formally activated on July 1.
The 31-year-old former Blackpool and Rangers player officially committed his future to the Millers yesterday morning and will join up with his team mates for the start of pre-season training at Roundwood on Thursday.