His plans for a promotion push have been threatened by a number of fitness issues affecting members of his squad, as the Blades continue a remarkable run of fixtures that is stretching them to the limit.
In squad number order, we take a look at those members of Heckingbottom’s squad fighting for fitness, with details and a prognosis if known…
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The wing-back limped off during United’s 4-0 win over Swansea earlier this month, but was fit to face Blackburn and Millwall – although he left The Den with an ice pack on and will be assessed this week ahead of Friday’s clash with Nottingham Forest.
Stevens’ calf injury has proved problematic in terms of the defender’s recovery, with the exact problem occurring between two muscles.
“It’s just been really slow,” said boss Heckingbottom. “We'll be led by how he reacts to every training session.
"It's how he responds to the rehab and we'll be led by that."
Stevens is not yet training with the main group of Blades and so is a while off full fitness.
O’Connell hasn’t played for the Blades for 15 months after going under the knife for a couple of knee operations, and is rehabilitating both at Shirecliffe and elsewhere in a bid to regain full fitness.
“We’re not putting a timescale on this, because all that does is put pressure on Jack,” Heckingbottom said. “He’s been down so many different avenues and roads, so that’s something we’re not going to do.”
United’s Mr. Dependable was seen limping after a heavy challenge during the Swansea game, and later missed the Blackburn and Millwall games after damaging knee ligaments.
United publicly insist that Basham’s season isn’t over, and Heckingbottom says he doesn’t need surgery, but he will be a big miss for however many games he is absent ...
A hamstring injury has put paid to Brewster’s season, with the former Liverpool man going under the knife to correct the problem.
He hopes to be fit and firing for pre-season.
Another striker whose season looks to be over after he suffered a thigh injury earlier this month. After examining a number of different options for treatment, an operation was booked for this week.
Long-term, the injury may have ramifications for McGoldrick’s United future. He is out of contract this summer and would have been confident of earning a new deal before damaging, but not completely rupturing, a thigh muscle.
In another significant blow to United’s promotion hopes, impressive full-back Bogle went under the knife to sort out a knee injury that United initially hoped could be managed carefully, game-to-game.
But a second opinion from a specialist suggested that that approach could have further effects down the line in the youngster’s career, and the decision was taken to undergo an operation.
Heckingbottom suggested a six-month recovery period, which takes Bogle into the new season.
A hamstring issue has seen Osborn sidelined, with Heckingbottom suggesting United’s stop-start schedule over Christmas is to blame for his and Stevens’ injuries.
“Ozzy had his first day with us today but only very light,” Heckingbottom said recently. “So he’s still a few weeks away.”
Heckingbottom also revealed the Welsh international wing-back was carrying an unspecified knock, but is playing through the pain barrier with Stevens and Osborn, the two other players capable of playing down the left, both sidelined.