Paul Heckingbottom reveals Oli McBurnie wish as Sheffield United man builds up fitness after Covid-19

Paul Heckingbottom still believes that Oli McBurnie can play a big part in the second half of Sheffield United’s season, after the Scottish international responded well to a dedicated training programme designed to accelerate his recovery after contracting Covid-19.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 1:34 pm

Heckingbottom revealed recently that McBurnie struggled after picking up coronavirus, losing weight and strength as a result.

Despite completing the necessary self-isolation period, McBurnie was left out of the Blades squads that travelled to Derby and Preston in the last few days, in order for him to work independently at United’s Shirecliffe base and look to build his body back up again.

Despite a polarising United career in the eyes of many United fans, McBurnie is a proven asset in this division and earned his big-money move to United on the back of 24 Championship goals for Swansea.

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And Heckingbottom, speaking ahead of this weekend’s clash with Luton Town at Bramall Lane, said: “He’s had a good week.

“We kept him out of the squad for Derby and Preston so he could do more work, and he’s applied himself well. Because it’s tough when you’re working on your own.

“I want to put him back in as soon as possible. He has a way to go still but we’re doing what we think is right in building him up. He’s come on and looks a lot stronger now, and is responding well to the hard work he’s been doing.

Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie in action against this weekend's opponents Luton Town earlier this season: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“I know him, we want to get him up to the levels he’s showed previously and I’ve said to him that it won’t be for a lack of effort on our part as a staff.

“He’s going to be pushed, as we hope and expect him to get back to those levels.”

Heckingbottom signed McBurnie as a loan star for Barnsley, and the then-Swansea man scored nine goals in 16 starts to earn himself the club’s player of the season award, despite joining more than halfway through it.

He has seven league goals in 39 starts for the Blades, making 31 more league appearances from the bench, and has one goal in 14 games this season.