FORMER Scotland captain David Weir is poised to extend his playing career at League One Sheffield United.
Weir is training with the Blades after being released by Scottish champions Rangers and manager Danny Wilson admits there is a possibility of a short-term deal.
Although 41, Weir played a major role in Rangers winning last season’s Scottish Premier League title.
He was still representing his country until 15 months ago and Wilson thinks he is a ‘fantastic’ option to have available at this stage of the season.
“When someone asked if David could come and train with us, it was a no-brainer,” said Wilson. “I was never going to turn that down.
“Maybe his legs are not as quick as they used to be – that’s understandable – but his brain is twice as quick and that will do for me.
“He is unbelievable, an absolute terrific specimen as an athlete, and a fantastic example to young players.”
Weir’s association with Blades striker James Beattie was one of the biggest reasons for his link-up with the club.
The pair played together for both Everton and Rangers and still keep in touch on a regular basis. Despite his advancing years, the centre-back is determined not to hang up his boots yet.
“He’s out of contract so he could sign whenever he wants,” said Wilson. “It’s open-ended and we have both sat down and been honest.
“If there is nothing here for him, I will get straight to the point. If there is something here for him, he will fight tooth and nail to get in a position where he is challenging on merit. It won’t be a ‘sympathy vote’. Likewise, if he finds he can go play somewhere else, we will shake hands and move on because he wants to play football and doesn’t want to be sat around.
“He wants to keep playing football and, from that point of view, his ambition is just as great as when he first started,” Wilson added. “While he is still fit enough, he wants to play. The other side of the game can take a back seat possibly until his legs won’t let him play football any more.
“When you see him out on the pitch, he carries that experience and aura that typifies his career. He looks like a 30-year-old and the respect he has is fantastic. He is very calm. He’s been there, seen it, and done it, 10 times over.”
By his own admission, Wilson feared the loss of players in the transfer window due to financial pressures at Bramall Lane.
Teenage centre-back Harry Maguire was always the most likely target yet no bids materialised.
“We needed a bit of cover at centre-back and, if something did happen to one of our other players, why look any further than someone with David Weir’s experience?” reflected Wilson. “I am absolutely delighted that the window has closed and we have not lost anybody. It was always a worry.
“At the beginning of the season, it was well-documented that we had to get the wage bill down and I happily understood that,” he said. “I was expecting that to happen. In an economic way, that was the way forward but football-wise, I didn’t want it to happen.
“All along, I said that I would love to get through the window without anybody leaving and, thankfully, that’s happened. All the players have taken a lot of confidence from that, too.
“I didn’t hear about any interest from other clubs but that may have been because I had my phone turned off,” he quipped.
“There were murmurs and rumours flying about everywhere that ‘this or that’ might happen but we had nothing come to us that was concrete.
“That didn’t surprise me because the climate of football nowadays dictates. Only a fifth of what was spent this time last year was spent up and down the country. That speaks volumes. Maybe we had also made enough noises about no-one going out of the club unless it was a massive bid. That may have put one or two off and there has been nothing from any of the players to suggest they wanted to leave.
“Put all three into the equation and it’s worked out well for us. It is testing whenever a transfer window comes up but they have come through the test very well. No-one has a crystal ball to see where we will end up this season but we have a far better chance of success by keeping everyone together.”
Wilson confirmed that Blades club captain Chris Morgan has returned to training after 15 months on the sidelines following knee surgery. There is no immediate sign of a first-team return but Wilson hopes he could figure before the end of the season.
Weather permitting, the Blades visit Colchester tomorrow seeking to maintain the pressure on Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town in the League One promotion race.
The Blades lie fourth but are just a point behind the Owls and the Terriers with a game in hand.
“It’s keeping everyone talking, especially in this area,” said Wilson.
“Who is going to be top dog and who is going to fail? It’s a great talking point but we will just keep plodding along, trying to claw back the teams in front of us. Hopefully, by the end of the season, we will be up there in the automatics.”