DEFENDER Darryl Westlake last night revealed he has sought advice from Michael Doyle in an effort to limit the damage caused by his suspended colleague’s absence.
Westlake was a surprise choice to fill the void created in Sheffield United’s midfield when the former Republic of Ireland international’s appeal against a three match ban failed before Saturday’s meeting with Bury.
Danny Wilson, the United manager, refused to divulge whether he will continue the experiment when Doncaster Rovers visit Bramall Lane tonight.
But Westlake, a summer signing from Walsall, said: “I’m happy to play wherever I’m asked. I feel I can play in most positions.
“Doyler had a quiet word with me before the Bury game and gave me some advice. That really helped.
“He just told me to keep it simple. Not to try anything fancy. Just do what I felt comfortable with and keep things ticking over.”
Although Wilson’s decision to change tact midway through the 1-1 draw indicates coaching staff were not entirely happy with how events unfolded against Peter Shirtliff’s side, his comments during yesterday’s pre-match media briefing suggest they could be tempted to stick rather than twist.
Acknowledging David McAllister “prefers to play through the middle,” Wilson nevertheless reserved the right to make left field selections.
“It doesn’t hurt anyone’s development to play out of position if you like,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt them at all.”
Doyle, who saw red at Scunthorpe earlier this month, is scheduled to return to action against Notts County in 11 days time.
Admitting his United debut had been industrious but imperfect, Westlake continued: “It’s the first time I’ve ever played that position professionally. I have played in central midfield before but only when I was much younger.
“Doyler is a class act and so I tried to copy what he does. If I go in there again, which I’m happy to do, then I’ll try and get on the ball a little bit more.”
United, who are seventh in the League One table, averaged 2.6 points per game at this stage of the competition last season. Twelve months on and that figure has dropped to 1.6 although they remain one of only 11 teams in England’s top four divisions to still be unbeaten.
Rovers, in ninth, will be hoping to puncture that record this evening but Westlake said: “Doncaster are a good team but I’m really looking forward to this one.
“When I was at Walsall there were hardly any derbies so, for me, this is going to be one to savour hopefully.”
“I’ve settled in well and been made to feel very welcome,” he added. “Now I want to focus on playing more games.”