Sheffield United boss keeps his squad on red-alert for second half of season after lost momentum admission

Boss Paul Heckingbottom admits his squad have lost some valuable momentum after a spate of postponed games throughout December, after challenging his squad to “start again” in their pursuit of promotion this season.

United played only their second league game since December 5 on Saturday at Derby County, and were beaten 2-0 as Wayne Rooney’s side climbed off the bottom of the table thanks to Tom Lawrence’s classy double.

United slipped to 14th in the table as a result and they are now 10 points off sixth-placed Middlesbrough, albeit with three games in hand – one of which is against Chris Wilder’s Boro at Bramall Lane.

That was one of four Blades games postponed during December because of Covid-19 issues in the opposition camp. Another, Boxing Day’s trip to Preston North End, takes place tomorrow evening at Deepdale.

“You can’t go that length of time [without playing] and keep momentum,” Heckingbottom said.

“It’s been such a big space of time that everything’s gone from that Fulham game. The nature of that Christmas period wasn’t great and it’s like we’re starting again.”

Heckingbottom has placed the fringe members of his squad on red alert that they will be called upon in the second half of the season.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“We have got half a season left, and we want it to be a better half than the first

“The boys would all rather be playing. We need everyone. We need them back from injury or Covid or whatever.

“I’m looking at the run in after the Peterborough game, there’s some big games and quick turnarounds. So we’re going to need the squad.”