Sheffield United: Strike duo still have “crucial” roles to play

Marc McNulty wears a mask to protect his facial injury  � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Marc McNulty wears a mask to protect his facial injury � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
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Michael Higdon and Marc McNulty have been reassured that Chris O’Grady’s arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion will not limit their first team opportunities at Bramall Lane, writes James Shield.

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough issued his pledge after completing the signature of O’Grady, the former Barnsley and Leicester City centre-forward, on emergency loan.

Although what Clough described as a “slight knock” could prevent the 28-year-old featuring against Notts County this evening, he acknowledged O’Grady’s presence was designed to ensure United are equipped to cope with a congested fixture list which could see them play seven games over the festive period.

“We’ve now got four strikers here if you count Jose (Baxter) among them,” Clough told The Star. “And that’s exactly what we wanted because we’re going to have to change things about a bit over the coming weeks.

“Chris has come in to compliment Michael and Marc, to add to what we’ve already got. So, with that in mind, they shouldn’t take it as a slight at all.

“They’ve still got important roles. Absolutely crucial ones in fact.”

O’Grady, who represented Sheffield Wednesday before moving to Oakwell, featured on United’s shopping list during the close season before electing for The AMEX Stadium instead.

Higdon and McNulty scored a combined total of nine goals in their last 15 outings before succumbing to injury but have been declared available for selection when fifth placed United return to League One action tonight.

“We like players who contribute more than just goals,” Clough said. “That’s because, if you’ve got someone who is just an out-and-out goalscorer and they get hurt, where do you go from there? It leaves you with nowhere to go.

“All of these lads have got very good records in front of goal but they contribute a lot more. They’ve got other facets to their game which is great for us like bringing others into play.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1