Sheffield United: '˜You have the power to decide how this season unfolds,' promotion-chasing squad is told
Sheffield United can retain control of their own promotion destiny, manager Chris Wilder has insisted, providing they avoid a spate of injuries.
He was speaking as coaching staff prepare to welcome back five players back from international duty, including England under-21 goalkeeper Dean Henderson and Scotland midfielder John Fleck.
United's preparations for this weekend's visit to Rotherham have been complicated by concerns about defender John Egan, who was released from the Republic if Ireland squad which faced Denmark on Tuesday due to a calf problem.
Although Wilder has plenty of experienced cover at his disposal, the 51-year-old accepts fitness issues could help decide the race for Premier League football.
"Who knows what's round the corner? We have to keep everyone fit and healthy, and keep playing well," he said. "It's in our control, we have to do what we have done in the first part of the season and take that into the second part, to give us an opportunity of being in the mix."
United will enter Saturday's match at New York Stadium fourth in the Championship table and only three points behind leaders Norwich City. Enda Stevens (Ireland), Kieron Freeman (Wales) and Fleck (Scotland) are all expected to feature alongside Henderson. But Ben Woodburn, who travelled with Freeman to Albania on Tuesday, is waiting to discover if he will be named in the squad after struggling to establish himself since arriving on loan from Liverpool.
However Woodburn did win his latest senior cap as a second-half substitute during the friendly at Elbasan Arena. Freeman made his debut for Wales, also coming on after the interval, while Fleck was an unused substitute against Israel.
Egan, one of United's first-choice centre-halves, has spent the past 48 hours being assessed by medical staff with Wilder set to provide an update on his condition at the club's pre-match media conference.
Although there appears to be a slim chance Egan recovers in time, Richard Stearman has been placed on standy-by to start the meeting with Paul Warne's side.
"Whatever gets thrown at us, you won't hear any moaning," Wilder said. "We'll just get on with it, which is the way it should be."