Collins provides boost for Wilson

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Danny Wilson is set to receive a massive boost with the return to training next week of injured defender Neill Collins.

The Blades centre-back has missed the last three League One games after suffering a fractured cheekbone in the Boxing Day game against Scunthorpe United.

With full-back Matt Hill also sidelined through injury, United’s defence has been stretched and they have yet to win in the league in Collins’s absence.

They drew at Doncaster Rovers, but that was sandwiched by back-to-back home defeats against Hartlepool United and Yeovil last Saturday.

But the 29-year-old is due to resume running next week, and even has a face mask to protect his cheekbone during his return.

Initially ruled out for two months, Wilson now hopes the Blades defender could be back playing in a fortnight’s time.

“He’s doing very well,” said Wilson. “He has been supplied with a face mask – which doesn’t make him look any better – but he’s feeling a lot better in himself.

“The test will be when he has to start training again, and has to make contact with the ball and certainly the opposition. That’s the biggest problem.

“But he’s on the right track, and maybe in the next couple of weeks we will see him again.

“Hopefully, he will start to do running next week, but obviously there will be no contact involved. That’s the biggest problem, obviously the fracture – no matter how you feel personally – has to heal.

“But he is making good progress, which is great.”

Wilson has been forced to draft in youngsters to fill his match-day squad with injuries to senior players like Collins, Hill and Shaun Miller.

While the Blades chief is happy how his youngsters have coped, he believes the team has suffered for its lack of experience.

“We are missing all the boys that are injured,” he said. “I think you saw last week the problems that we had when you have a young squad. It’s very difficult to change a game.

“But we will keep our fingers crossed that we can get them back quicker than expected. We have lost some key players in the team, who are difficult to replace, but the boys who have come in have done very well at times.

“It’s just difficult to replace the senior players. We know we have got good characters in the club, I think just what we are missing at the moment is experience. It’s difficult to replace the players that are out injured.”

The Blades today face a County side who are seven points adrift of the play-offs, but have two games in hand, having not played since New Year’s Day. They have not won in six matches but Wilson is wary of their threat.

“We know that Notts County were – and still possibly are – nominated for one of the play-off places, so it will be a tough game but it holds no fears for us,” he said.

“They have lost a few key players, like Lee Hughes. I am sure they would like to be in the play-off places at this stage, but they are still in touching distance. If they string a couple of wins together they can be back up there.”

There will be a pitch inspection at 9.30am to determine if the match can go ahead.