Chris Basham’s importance to the Sheffield United cause must not be under-estimated, assistant manager Alan Knill insisted last night, as the League One leaders prepare for another key game in their battle to reach the Championship.
Chris Wilder’s side will move eight points clear at the top of the table if they beat his former club Oxford tonight.
Although John Fleck and Billy Sharp have dominated the headlines in recent weeks - the latter scored his 24th goal since August during Saturday’s draw with Rochdale - Knill warned it would be a mistake not to acknowledge Basham’s contribution during a critical stage of the campaign.
“Bash is amazing. I didn’t know him before we came and I don’t think Chris did either. But we knew of him. We knew he was a midfield player who can also play (as a) central defender. We thought, really, we’d rather have him in one position. But he can just slot in almost anywhere.”
Having impressed during United’s 2-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers earlier this month, Basham produced another commanding performance at Spotland three days ago.
“He gives his all,” Knill added. “Last Saturday, one of the biggest roars was when he went marauding down the pitch and made a slide tackle. As coaches and managers, that’s what you want; players who are committed. Bash is. “He’s a great lad off the pitch and in the dressing room. But, on it, he just wants to win. And that translates itself to everybody. He’s been brilliant, he really has.”
United are expected have a near full-strength squad at their disposal tonight after centre-forward James Hanson recovered from an ankle injury.
“It’s no big deal, the quick turnaround, people who have played and coached get used to it.” Knill said. “We’ve got a big squad and so we can cope.
“Oxford are a good side, they’ve competed well in this division. We respect what the opposition has got but, as always, the main focus is on ourselves. If we play well, then, it’s going to be a tough night for Oxford.”