Marc McNulty craving regular football after Sheff Utd release

After a loan spell at Bradford City, Marc McNulty must decide his next move
After a loan spell at Bradford City, Marc McNulty must decide his next move
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Released by Sheffield United, a baby due this month, interest from Hearts, Hibs and other Scottish teams, plus several clubs in England coveting his signature. Marc McNulty has plenty to ponder right now.

He is just back from an end-of-season trip to Las Vegas with friends including Stefan Scougall, another player freed from Bramall Lane. Their futures are unclear but McNulty knows his next decision affects him, his partner and their imminent new arrival.

Hearts and Hibs are amongst a host of clubs to make enquiries and the chance to return to his native Edinburgh would appeal to the 24-year-old striker. The lure of England also remains strong.

“I’m just waiting just now because the season has just finished and I’ve been away for a break. My Mrs is pregnant and due on May 30. I’m just seeing what’s what right now and after we have the little one I’ll decide what’s best from there.

“I’ve probably been a bit selfish before, only needing to think about myself. Now the little one’s coming that’s the most important thing. It’s still really important to me where I play my football because I’ve still got plenty years ahead of me.

“There isn’t really any preference. Everybody is saying to me: ‘Are you going back to Scotland or do you want to stay in England?’ I just want a manager who will trust in me, whether that’s in England or Scotland.”

McNulty is wise not to close any avenue until contract offers are put to him. He was only formally freed by United last week and firmly believes he has more nets to bulge down south. After being released by Hibs as a 16-year-old, he never imagined experincing White Hart Lane, or scoring goals to knock Southampton and Queens Park Rangers out of national cup competitions.

“I definitely feel I’ve got unfinished business in England,” said the former Livingston player. “It’s stuff you think of as a kid growing up. I still pinch myself when I think I scored against a couple of Premier League team, played at White Hart Lane, Southampton, Upton Park, in front of full houses. They’re things which, as a kid, I never thought would happen.

“I started off at Livingston. I was released by Hibs and I just never thought getting to that level would be possible, but it is. These are moments to cherish for the rest of my life. It’s not the end, though.

“If I didn’t go to Livingston, I could’ve played for Hibs Under-17s and Under-19s and then, like a lot of boys, be told I wasn’t going to make it in my late teens. Most boys at that age don’t progress after that.

“It was probably a step back going to Livingston at that time, but really it was a step forward. I got myself into the first team at an early age. That got me experience. When people in England see a kid has played 100-odd games at professional level, they take note.

“That’s the important thing, playing first-team games. It doesn’t matter the level. If you’re playing for somebody and it’s your livelihood, you need to win every week.”

After 41 goals in 96 appearances, Livingston sold McNulty to Sheffield United in 2014 for £125,000. “In my first season I finished joint-top goalscorer at United with Jamie Murphy. He got a move to Brighton and he’s now in the Premier League. I didn’t start many games but I expected that and I was happy.

“I thought my second year would be when I’d kick on. Unfortunately, there was a change of manager and he brought in two new strikers. He told me I wasn’t going to play. No matter what club I’m at, I need to play and be involved every week.

“I went on loan to Portsmouth and I can’t speak highly enough of them. That’s probably where I played my best football and I loved it there. There was another new manager at Sheffield United last summer and he wanted to play one up front. Billy Sharp was the captain and he’s done fantastic so I didn’t think I had any right to play ahead of him.

“I went on loan to Bradford and it didn’t work out there. The manager called my back to Sheffield United in January and said I’d get a little sniff. The boys did that well – they didn’t lose a game – it was hard for me to play. Sometimes you need to just applaud the boys who are in front of you. I didn’t really have an argument to play.

“Wherever I go next season, I want to play regularly. That’s really important.”