Sheffield United: Boss explains Baxter role

Jose Baxter (right) has impressed for Sheffield United in an unfamiliar role � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Jose Baxter (right) has impressed for Sheffield United in an unfamiliar role � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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Nigel Clough admits his decision to employ Jose Baxter as a lone striker is “hard” on the recognised centre-forwards within Sheffield United’s first team squad, writes James Shield.

But Clough, the United manager, revealed ahead of tonight’s League One fixture against Peterborough that Chris Porter and Billy Paynter still have “huge roles” to play as he looks to negotiate safe passage through a congested fixture schedule which could be complicated further if Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final with Charlton Athletic finishes all-square.

“Jose has been excellent in that position,” Clough said. “It wasn’t a brave decision at all to put him there, it just suited what we were trying to do at the time.

“The only downside of it is that it must be frustrating for Billy and Chris because they are specialists. I can appreciate that but, equally, they understands because of the run that we’ve been on.”

United enter this evening’s contest 12th in the table and searching for an eighth straight win in all competitions following last weekend’s victory at MK Dons. That match was the seventh time United have played since February 1 with any replay with Athletic set to take place on March 17.

The South Yorkshire club, who have moved next week’s visit of Carlisle back 24 hours to March 12, would then be forced to play their game at Preston North End on Saturday 15 (kick-off 3pm) having previously rearranged it for live broadcast.

Clough, who took charge of yesterday’s Professional Development League fixture at Crewe Alexandra, said: “Everyone will have huge roles to play because of the sheer volume of games ahead of us. No matter what that is, be it the whole game, coming on at a key moment to see something through or encouraging from the bench, they are going to be very important because we are all in this together and one big group.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1