Paul Heckingbottom’s side were relegated from the Premier League following a defeat at Molineux last season and travel to the Midlands without 11 senior players due to injury and illness.
Despite making a slow start to the Championship season - something his predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic, much to the board’s annoyance, blamed in part upon strategic failings in the transfer market - United will enter their meeting with Bruno Lage’s side searching for a fifth straight victory in all competitions.
Although Heckingbottom dismissed suggestions earlier this week that the match would provide a gauge of his team’s promotion credentials, citing the number of absentees within his squad, Basham said: “This is a chance to put a stamp down. I’ve seen a hunger in the side and a determination to keep a clean sheet. Can we perform on the big stage?
“There’s a hunger about us and a hunger about the manager. That’s something we want to do, make people stand up and take notice. We want to play against Premier league opposition and against the best in the world.”
After replacing Jokanovic in November, Heckingbottom also wants to reprofile United’s playing staff; trimming an attack overloaded with options and bolstering those at centre-half, where he appears desperately short of cover. A verbal contract offer has been made to Basham by the 44-year-old, with the ownership being informed of the manager’s desire to keep him. But Heckingbottom, who is now waiting for them to action his plans, also wants to bring Heart of Midlothian’s John Souttar to Bramall Lane. The Scotland international’s deal at Tynecastle expires at the end of the campaign and, although Rangers are also interested, England is understood to be the player’s preferred destination.
Stoke City, Nottingham Forest and also Blackburn Rovers, who are monitoring United’s Oliver Burke, have been mooted as possible contenders for his signature.
“We’ve had a lot of set-backs the last few weeks,” Basham said, referring to the recent postponement of matches against Hull City, Queens Park Rangers, Preston North End and Middlesbrough. “Preparing for a game, not happening, preparing for a game, not happening. Why can’t we go there and perform well, either scrape out a win or turn it with a moment of brilliance? We just want to get back out there and perform.”
United are 13th in the Championship table but possess four games in hand on sixth placed Huddersfield Town. Heckingbottom told The Star on Friday that the rankings provide a “false” picture of their recent progress because of the chaos caused to their schedule. Indeed, he accepted the situation could also prove a handicap in the transfer market, as he attempts to persuade the likes of Souttar that United are capable of challenging for an immediate return to the highest level.
“This will show how we can do against a really good Premier League team with top players,” Basham said. “The situation we’ve been put in isn’t ideal, okay, but we’ll forget about all of that now because this is a chance for us to get back to what we want to do - play football - and show what we’re about.”