Sheffield United: Can Chris Wilder tinker The Blades towards the Premier League?

It is a measure of Sheffield United's new-found strength in depth that Chris Wilder has not named an unchanged starting eleven since the defeat by Swansea City nearly nine weeks ago.

By James.Shield1
Wednesday, 20th March 2019, 1:19 pm

Having entered the international break unbeaten in 10 outings, seven of those ending in victory, the manager's rotation policy has been a resounding success with Saturday's win at Leeds lifting the visitors to second in the Championship table.

Although Wilder conceded ahead of the trip to West Yorkshire that choosing who to start and who to bench is an arduous task at the best of times - "Good players, who don't deserve to be, can end up getting left out" - the United manager has indicated he will continue to shuffle his options during the remaining eight matches of the campaign.

Indeed, given the different tactical challenges posed by their forthcoming opponents, Wilder believes it will give his squad the best possible chance of reaching the Premier League.

"Listen, we've talked about this for a long time," he said. "They're good problems. The issue is when you haven't, and you're trying to shoehorn people in.

"Now, whatever way we want to go, we've got that ability to do it comfortably.

"That's a good place to be. We're in the race, we've gone up to second, and we've got a good group."

United new-found tactical flexibility was in evidence at Elland Road, where Martin Cranie's presence allowed Wilder to name Chris Basham in midfield to provide a defence which has now kept seven consecutive clean sheets greater protection.

Despite acknowledging the experiment was not a resounding success - "We could have played better" - Basham overcame a difficult start to score the only goal of the game midway through the second-half.

"We had 13 or 14 players last year and, no disrespect to the others, but it was a difficult at times," Wilder, whose side finished 10th last term, said. "Now we look a lot stronger in terms of experience and quality. That's the difference.

"You can change it around and have Scott Hogan up front with David McGoldrick.

“Then, I can turn around and look at Billy Sharp and Gary Madine there on the bench."

Madine, of course, is suspended for United's next two fixtures having served the first installment of his three match ban last weekend. Hogan, McGoldrick and Conor Washington, name-checked by Sharp earlier this month, are all away on duty with their respective countries.