Sheffield United: Why Billy Sharp's reaction to being rested shows growing maturity in the Blades skipper

Billy Sharp celebrates against WiganBilly Sharp celebrates against Wigan
Billy Sharp celebrates against Wigan
Almost as quickly as he recalled the opposition when he scored his last hat-trick, remarkably over a decade ago, Billy Sharp accepted that the Sheffield United captaincy has matured him.

Yes, he conceded, there were times when he would have sulked after being dropped, as he was last midweek when United entertained Stoke.

Manager Chris Wilder was at pains to point out that Sharp was in fact rested '“ and it must be noted that his replacement Leon Clarke scored United's goal as they outplayed Gary Rowett's men '“ but even if no response was neccessary, the Blades skipper certainly delivered one with a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Wigan - his first treble since August 2008, when he put QPR to the sword.

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'The gaffer pulled me to one side and told me I wasn't going to play against Stoke,' Sharp recalled.

'I was disappointed but I had to deal with it. I'm older now, and it's a team game; Leon came in, scored an important goal and won man of the match.

'But there was a time when I would definitely have reacted differently. I would have been frustrated and sulked a little bit.

'But I'm captain of this football club now, so I've got to lead by example. The gaffer spoke to me and told me I'd be playing against Wigan, so I had to keep my head and help the team.'

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Goals nine, ten and 11 of the season certainly did that, and ensured United travel to Nottingham Forest's City Ground this weekend clear at the top of the Championship.

Asked if he has set himself a goal target for the season, Sharp added: 'Not as I've got older. I used to just target 20 goals a season which, looking back, was a bit selfish.

'I've got to work hard and, if I'm not scoring goals, do other things that help the team and the club. Luckily I'm scoring goals at the minute, but the most important thing is to do well as a team and a club.

"We believe we should be at the top of the table, and there's no reason that we can't stay there for the rest of the season.'

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Meanwhile, United have appointed their first ever female vice-president.

Beverley Webster, a well-known figure in business, health and charity sectors, joins seven other vice-presidents at Bramall Lane.

She said: "I think the VPs have a fantastic role to play in the community on behalf of the club both working collaboratively with local business but also critically in the support our foundation gives to young people in the city."