Sheffield United: Clough hopes perseverance in striker search will pay off

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough
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SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Nigel Clough is hoping perseverance will pay off in his striker quest - while revealing that injured duo Michael Higdon and Marc McNulty could return in the league clash with Notts County in eight days time.

Former Barnsley striker Chris O’Grady, linked with the Blades in the summer, is high on Clough’s list of targets, with the frontman out of favour at Brighton, but Seagulls manager Sami Hyppia will not let him out on loan until he gets a replacement in.

Clough, who saw his side beat Crewe 2-0 in their FA Cup first-round replay at Bramall Lane on Tuesday, with Ryan Flynn firing both goals, said: “We keep trying, there’s only a few on the list, but we keep asking. It is very dependent on other clubs at the moment.

“But Michael Higdon and Marc McNulty are not far away and could be as soon as a week on Friday.”

Clough was satisfied with his side’s attacking performance against Crewe, while also paying credit to Mark Howard for showing his mettle at a key juncture.

The Blades custodian replicated his heroics in saving Harry Forrester’s penalty at Doncaster on Saturday in making a critical double save to deny George Cooper and Callum Saunders just prior to the Blades opener - on a night when he had little else to do.

The Blades chief also praised the zestful performance of Stefan Scougall, who he feels is getting back to his best.

Clough, whose side will now host Plymouth Argyle in round two, said: “It was a clean sheet and a professional job with some good performances as well.

“I thought we played well and controlled the game.

“Ultimately, you have that little threat of Crewe in the back of your mind on the break and they had a couple of efforts in the first half with Mark Howard making a great double save and then one hit the inside of the post.

“Apart from that, we weren’t really troubled and did enough going forward, just didn’t finish off some of the moves.

“That’s how important he is for us. He might not have six, seven or eight saves in the game, but it is the one or two important ones which is the sign of a good goalkeeper that he is concentrating when called upon and pulls those saves off.

“I thought Stefan was outstanding and probably back to somewhere near his form of last season.

And on two-goal Flynn, he added: “They were two great goals, difficult goals as well. One was in the six-yard box and he was in there for a tackle to get the goal, which was great to see and then he made a great run for the second goal.”