HUDDERSFIELD Town hope completing a ‘mini pre-season’ will give Sean Scannell a major pick-me-up before Saturday’s return to his former club Crystal Palace.
Manager Simon Grayson and his staff feel the tricky winger, signed from Selhurst Park in the close-season, has yet to reach peak fitness – and as a result, peak form.
He’s being put through an intensive 10-day programme, so was left out of the squad for Saturday’s 2-0 Championship defeat at Hull.
“There’s no doubt we have a potential match-winner in Sean,” said coach Glynn Snodin, who along with Grayson, yesterday learned of a three-match ban for former Palace striker Alan Lee after he was retrospectively charged with violent conduct by the Football Association after his clash with Hull defender Alex Bruce.
“But we want Sean to be a potent player and a danger to opponents for 90 minutes, not 60 or 70.
“He’s had a few injury problems, so has been in and out of the team, and this special schedule is a way of getting him to full sharpness.
“Sean is working hard, because he’s desperate to play his part, and he’s understandably desperate to be involved against Palace.”
Born and bred in nearby Croydon, the 22-year-old came through the youth system at the South London club and made 141 appearances for them (73 starts), scoring 12 goals.
He won Republic of Ireland B and Under 21 honours there.
He has made 13 Town appearances, seven of them starts, scoring his only goal so far to clinch the 1-0 home win over Bristol City in November.
Snodin confirmed that on-loan Reading striker Simon Church is back in full training after being left out of the trip to Hull because of illness.
Both Town and Lee accepted the FA charge, and the suspension which keeps him out at Palace and at home to Blackpool on Boxing Day and Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday week.
Lee, who also faces a club punishment, caught Bruce, with whom he played at Town and Ipswich, with an elbow at the final whistle.
The Hull centre-back retaliated by pushing Lee and was shown a straight red card by referee Howard Webb, who confirmed to the FA that he didn’t see the Town man’s offence.
The FA acted after reviewing footage of the KC Stadium clash.
Ex-Republic of Ireland player Lee, 34, said: “I raised my arm to protect myself and get past Alex as we came towards each other.
“He moved across me in an attempt to block my run.
“There was no intent on my part, but I caught Alex and then he reacted as a result.
“I am a wholehearted, genuine player and I give my all every second I’m on the pitch.
“There was some really harsh, personal criticism in the aftermath of the game, but I fully understand that I have to accept the FA’s perception of events.
“I would like to apologise to my teammates that I won’t be available for the next three games and I will look to put things right in the future.”
Town chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “Simon Grayson didn’t see the incident, but he said in his post-match press conference that if Alan had done something wrong he would be punished and this has subsequently happened.
“To lose Alan at this time, with three big fixtures coming up, is disappointing and avoidable.
“The incident at the end of the game was wholly unnecessary, as the game was over.”