HARRY Maguire’s presence at the heart of Sheffield United’s back four can prevent Neill Collins’ absence from derailing the League One leaders’ bid for promotion, captain Michael Doyle has claimed.
Danny Wilson, the United manager, revealed yesterday that Collins could miss up to 11 games after undergoing surgery to repair the cheekbone he fractured during Wednesday’s victory over Scunthorpe.
With Tony McMahon (suspended) also ruled out of this afternoon’s match against Hartlepool, Wilson faces the unenviable prospect of making wholesale changes to a defence that has been breached only once in its last four outings.
But Doyle said: “Now it’s time for Harry to take over looking after things at the back. He can do that together with Matty [Hill].
“Neill is a leader on the pitch and also in the dressing room. He’s a big and important character.”
“The fact injuries haven’t affected us in the past tells you something about the personalities and the attitude we’ve got in there,” Doyle added.
“But we are sort of down to the bare bones again. There’s never a good time to get injuries but with the January window coming up then perhaps this might not be the worst.
“I’m not the manager though and only him and his staff will know if, who and where we might be able to bring someone in.”
News that Collins suffered a triple fracture following a clash of heads with Damien Mozika has been compounded by confirmation that striker Shaun Miller sustained cruciate ligament damage earlier in the contest.
United prepare to entertain basement club Hartlepool two points ahead of their nearest rivals Tranmere Rovers and eight in front of seventh placed Bournemouth.
But Doyle said: “If we sat here and told everyone that we were happy and delighted then the only way would be down. We’re always looking to improve.
“The good thing is that we’ve got characters here. Characters with standards.
“The young lads have seen that and, full credit to them, they’ve taken that on board.
“We’ve had an okay start but the second half of the season is always so tough. Being where we are at the moment means nothing because, without being arrogant, everyone probably expected us to be there.
“But we don’t take anything for granted here. Nothing.”
Did you know? Hartlepool used to be known as ‘Hartlepools’ but dropped the ‘s’ from their name - a relic of the region’s history - in the late Sixties. Brian Clough used to be their manager.