Caolan Lavery is hoping to kickstart his Sheffield United career over the next seven days against some familiar faces.
The Canadian striker will line up against Ipswich Town in the FA Cup today – the Portman Road side was his first club in English football – before a Steel City derby against city rivals Wednesday next Friday.
The 25-year-old spent four years at Hillsborough, but failed to pin down a regular place, netting six goals in 34 appearances.
After loan spells at Southend United, Plymouth, Chesterfield and Portsmouth, Lavery eventually moved across Sheffield in the summer of 2016.
But he has missed most of this season following a horrific injury in August that left him with a shattered eye socket.
Now Lavery is eager to grasp his chance today as Blades boss Chris Wilder makes several changes for the Cup tie at Ipswich.
“I think any player you ask, that’s been out of the team for one point or another, you look forward to these games,” said Lavery, who has had to be patient in the pecking order behind Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke and Clayton Donaldson.
“If you have a cup run, it gives you more opportunity to be involved in the squad or come on to the pitch.
“The FA Cup is something I always look forward to because when I was growing up it was a really big thing.
“The Premier League was on television in Canada, but so were the cup games. It was something I grew up admiring and it’s always been an honour to play in it.
I think any player you ask, that’s been out of the team for one point or another, you look forward to these gamesSheffield United’s Caolan Lavery
“I was at Ipswich for a while. I really enjoyed my time there. It was the first club I signed for in England, there were lots of other Northern Irish and Irish lads there.
“It’s a really nice town as well. For one reason or another, I ended up turning down a contract.
“Luke Hyam was our youth team captain, he’s still there, and Tommy Wright. That’s about it. It shows how football changes.”
Since his injury, against Derby County in August, Lavery’s only taste of first-team football came as a substitute in the 3-0 win over Sunderland on Boxing Day.
“Hopefully I’ll take my chance,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the game. I can’t be worried about anything else.”
Midfielder Ben Whiteman is unavailable today after being recalled from his loan spell at Doncaster Rovers.
Southend United last night accepted a bid for midfielder Ryan Leonard from the Blades.