EYEBROWS were raised earlier this year when Danny Wilson started collecting strikers as if they were going out of fashion.
After all, some commentators and supporters questioned, aren’t all successful teams are built from the back?
Now, with one of his most experienced marksman nursing a mind-boggling catalogue of injuries, his leading scorer serving a five-year prison term and loan signing Will Hoskins succumbing to a hernia complaint, the motivation behind his decision to bolster Sheffield United’s attack rather than strengthen other positions is abundantly clear.
Goals, the manager reckoned, are the most valuable currency in League One competition.
And Wilson was determined, come what may, to ensure there were plenty in his team.
Unless Richard Cresswell, whose partnership with Ched Evans had been a driving force behind United’s climb to second in the table this term, can overcome his shoulder injury in time, Wilson could once again be forced to deploy an untested and new-look attack during Saturday’s home match against Stevenage.
Michael O’Halloran, whose searing pace makes him an ideal replacement for Hoskins, seems likely to make his full United debut nearly five
weeks after completing a temporary switch from Bolton Wanderers.
Should Cresswell, who missed last weekend’s trip to MK Dons, again be ruled out then Wilson must chose whether to partner him with either James Beattie or Chris Porter.
United’s preparations for the visit of Gary Smith’s side have been far from ideal.
But, despite seeing third-placed Wednesday move to within a point of his charges following the latest round of fixtures, Wilson reminded supporters United remain in the box seat to clinch the runners-up berth behind champions Charlton Athletic.
Revealing that United have dismissed all thoughts of possibly securing automatic promotion during the televised evening fixture from their minds, he said: “We are prepared to go the distance. It’s too tight to call.
“It will go
down to the last two games. Have we got the mental resilience required? Of course we have.
“That’s why we are in the position we are.”
O’Halloran is certainly made of the right stuff, having recently joined defender Joe Riley in putting pen to paper on an extended contract with Wanderers.
“To secure these two, who are supremely talented and have tremendous potential, is very pleasing,” Owen Coyle, Wilson’s counterpart at The Reebok Stadium, said at the time. “They are the kind of players who have caught the
eyes of other clubs and it is right that they should.
“So it’s important that we made them Bolton Wanderers players for years to come.”
“I’m delighted to get them on board,” Coyle added.
With Evans and Cresswell responsible for claiming 42 per cent of United’s goals in League One competition this term, O’Halloran, Porter and Beattie clearly have big boots to fill.
However, despite predominately being used along the flanks, O’Halloran would relish the opportunity of playing in a more central role.
“That’s where I normally play,” he said soon after arriving at United. “I can go out wide and I’m comfortable doing that but if you asked me what my position was then I’d say striker.”
Meanwhile, squash champion Nick Matthew will be United’s guest of honour against Stevenage.
“It’s a real honour to be invited,” he said.