Burnley boss Sean Dyche will mull over whether to try to extend Danny Drinkwater’s loan spell from Chelsea.
The former England midfielder’s deal expires on January 6 and so far his only appearance for the Clarets has come in a Carabao Cup defeat by Sunderland in August.
That was intended to build towards a first Premier League appearance but two weeks later Drinkwater was assaulted outside a nightclub in Manchester, sustaining an ankle injury.
He has finally returned to training but, given how little football he has played over the last year and a half, it is still likely to be several weeks before he is considered for the first team, by which time his loan spell will nearly be over.
Dyche said of Drinkwater’s future: “We weren’t thinking it was going to transpire as it has done.
“That leaves it in a different place than it could have been if he’d been fit and well and either playing or figuring. We’ll figure that out as we go from here.”
Drinkwater is one of two definite absentees for Saturday’s trip to Sheffield United along with winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson (hamstring), while striker Chris Wood (hamstring) and defender Phil Bardsley (back) are both doubts.
Dyche will find himself in the opposite dugout to a familiar face in Blades boss Chris Wilder.
“I think Chris has done a brilliant job, not just there, his whole career,” said Dyche.
“I played against him all those years ago but I really got to know him a little bit when he was at Oxford because he used to come over to the Watford training ground.
“I often marvel at some of the people in this industry just because of their people skills.
“I live in Northampton and when it was international breaks or weekends off I’d try and get down there (Wilder managed Northampton from 2014-16), and if he heard that I was in the stadium he always made a point of asking me to come down.
“I just thought it was a great gesture and I always went down to see him, even just for 10 minutes before a game. I always enjoyed his company, still do when I get a chance to see him, still speak to him on the phone now and again.
“I met him in the summer on a golf trip and we had, I think it was an orange and lemonade.
“I’ve got a lot of time for him and his staff and players. They’re doing a great job and they continue to do so. We certainly don’t think it’s anything other than another very tough game.”
United have acquitted themselves very well following promotion in the summer and currently sit eighth in the table, one point and five places above Burnley.
The Blades are looking to make it four unbeaten while Burnley have lost their last two matches against Leicester and Chelsea, conceding six goals in the process.