Paul Heckingbottom issues Sheffield United team news update ahead of Wigan Athletic clash
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has brought back three players for Monday’s game against Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.
The Blades returned to the Championship after the World Cup break with a 1-0 win against bottom Huddersfield Town at Bramall Lane on Saturday thanks to a 15th-minute strike from Billy Sharp.
Heckingbottom’s men have won five of their last six games and are currently second in the table, three points behind leaders Burnley and five ahead of third-placed Blackburn Rovers ahead of the Latics clash.
They play a side from Wigan, 22nd in the table, a point from safety, and Monday’s game will be their first home game under new coach Kolo Toure.
United have suffered from injuries this season but could be bolstered by the return to fitness of a number of key players. The club played a friendly midweek which featured players such as Sander Berge, Tommy Doyle, Jack Robinson, Jayden Bogle, Max Lowe, Chris Basham and Adam Davies.
Robinson, Doyle and Daniel Jebbison are all back in full training and Heckingbottom says they may be available against the Latics, telling Yorkshire Live: “They are fine and have been training for about a week. It’s important to get those minutes to keep them fit enough that when they get the chance to play they can help us score points and do their best.”
But Heckingbottom had less good news about midfielder John Fleck, who the club are sending for a scan to assess the next steps in his recovery.
“His leg still hurts and the bang he suffered where we were swollen. We will have a different opinion on this and see what needs to be done. Do we have to do something about that because we’ve gotten to that stage and it just puts him over the line,” Heckingbottom said.
“When he was in contact he suffered and we have to look at that.”
Referring to striker Oli McBurnie, who is the club’s top scorer with nine goals this season, Heckingbottom admitted he’s not at the required level of fitness and is keen to get him up to speed.
“He’s not where we want him to be, we need to get him 100% fit again, not suggesting himself to play cameo roles. That has to be the priority – he’s missed a few minutes this week on matters beyond our control, but we’ll look into that,” Heckingbottom said.
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It seems United are slowly but surely getting more players fit again.
The Blades have been decimated by injuries at times this season, making their current position on the automatic promotion spots even more impressive.
Doyle was a regular in midfield before his absence, while Robinson will be a useful addition to a defence, already the best in the league with just 19 goals conceded.
Berge and McBurnie came off the bench against Huddersfield last weekend and it can only be a positive thing to see players of this quality returning to full fitness.
The strength deep within the United squad is evident and this will be a huge asset for them as they try to maintain their promotion push.