Sheffield Derby: The player who proves what Sheffield United are all about
Chris Basham embodies what it means to be a Sheffield United player, manager Chris Wilder has insisted, as the defender prepares to make his return from suspension during the Steel City derby.
Basham is expected to earn an immediate recall to the starting eleven when Sheffield Wednesday visit Bramall Lane on Friday, after serving a one match ban against Nottingham Forest last weekend.
Despite not being among the highest profile members of United's first team squad, Wilder said Basham's "unselfishness" and " attitude" makes him one of the most influential.
"Bash is popular with everyone here and the fans," he acknowledged. "But for us, for the other players and the staff, he is also the perfect example of what a Sheffield United player is.
"The way Bash goes about things, the way he handles himself and the way he puts the group as a while first, you can't put a price on that. Genuinely, you can't."
Although Wilder prefers not to talk about individuals, particularly before such important and emotive games, his decision to highlight Basham's contribution underlines the high regard in which the 30-year-old is held behind the scenes. It can also be interpreted as a timely reminder about the qualities, despite Wednesday's recent struggles, Wilder suspects will be required to achieve a positive outcome against opponents without a win since October 7.
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"We try and set the tone, with the senior players in the dressing room," Wilder said. "The lads in there know what we're about and what the club is about. We demand certain things from people and those aren't up for negotiation. One of them is being down to earth and humble. Another is giving everything and putting the group as a whole first.
"That's what Bash, and the rest of the boys as well, are like."
Wednesday suffered their fourth straight defeat when Norwich City, who briefly replaced United at the top of the Championship, triumphed 4-0 at Hillsborough on Saturday afternoon. Wilder's team will also enter the fixture on the back of a loss, having succumbed 1-0 in the East Midlands. That result saw them drop to third, a point behind Daniel Farke's second-placed side and new leaders Leeds.
Although Wilder absolved United's defenders of any responsibility, Basham is likely to start against Wednesday after appearing in the club's opening 16 fixtures of the new season.
"Nothing here is guaranteed," Wilder said. "You've got to work hard to get a shirt and then keep it. So there's no 'shoe-in's' at all. We want that competition."