Wilson is unable to mask his admiration for Collins

Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson hopes the return of his experienced defensive duo can help rescue the Blades’ promotion hopes.

Centre-half Neill Collins and full-back Matt Hill have both missed over a month of football which has coincided with a slump in United’s League One form.

Since beating Scunthorpe United on Boxing Day, the Blades have failed to win in five League One games, including three successive Bramall Lane defeats to Hartlepool United, Yeovil and Coventry City.

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Their midweek game with Crawley Town was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch, leaving the Blades sixth.

Collins has returned wearing a face mask to protect his injured cheekbone and Wilson yesterday revealed Hill is also on the comeback trail after five weeks sidelined with a fractured jaw.

“With the game being postponed in midweek, we have had a little bit more time to prepare, which has been great,” said Wilson, whose side travel to face Shrewsbury Town tomorrow.

“Plus we have had one or two who are closing on a return from injury, which is obviously beneficial to us.

“Matty Hill is the main one. He was given five to six weeks on his fractured jaw and it touches five weeks on Saturday.

“He has missed a couple of games, but at least now he is coming back into contention which is great.”

Collins returned for the FA Cup defeat to Premier League Reading and was part of the Blades team whose improved second-half display was not enough to prevent a 2-1 defeat to Coventry.

Wilson was impressed with the Scottish defender’s performance, despite his need to wear a protective mask.

“He did well, it didn’t affect his judgment or his commitment, which was terrific,” said Wilson.

“The material they use these days is so lightweight, you don’t really know you have it on.

“Sub-consciously, he knows there’s a minor problem left, but you wouldn’t have noticed that with the way he committed himself.

“You want everybody available with experience, and coming to this stage of the season it’s very important to have that.

“Hopefully, with Matt close to a comeback, we are fairly complete.”

Goalkeeper Mark Howard’s recovery though has suffered a “minor setback” after playing for the Under-21s last week, which has delayed his comeback for another month.

United’s postponed match with Crawley has been rearranged for Tuesday, April 16.