Sheffield United: Paul Heckingbottom reveals an unexpected benefit of his Covid-19 isolation period

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, has explained how he put his time in isolation to good use.

Monday, 17th January 2022, 11:39 am

Having watched his team’s game against Derby County via videolink after testing positive for Covid-19, Heckingbottom is expected to return to the dug out when they visit Preston North End tomorrow evening.

Although he described himself as being “gutted” to miss the trip to Pride Park, particularly as it was United’s first league outing since December 20 following a series of postponements, Heckingbottom told The Star: “It’s still been all go. I’ve still been working non-stop.

“It meant that I was able to start my preparation on Preston a bit earlier than usual, so I’ve been doing all of that. I’ve also been speaking to lots of people, about what we need to do and also looking at players on video. Stuff like that.”

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United, who suffered a spate of postponements over Christmas and New Year, slipped to 14th in the table when they were beaten 2-0 by Wayne Rooney’s side. The defeat, their first in the league since Heckingbottom took charge in November, capped a disappointing weekend at Bramall Lane. Less than 24 hours before the game, Heart of Midlothian defender John Souttar, one of Hecingbottom’s leading transfer targets, signed a pre-contract agreement with Rangers. United have also been forced to identify possible replacements for Robin Olsen after the on-loan goalkeeper attracted interest from Aston Villa. Olsen, acquired from AS Roma, is scheduled to spend the rest of the season in South Yorkshire unless United activate a termination clause.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom spent last week in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
The Sheffield United manager remained in constant contact with his colleagues Stuart McCall and Jack Lester: Simon Bellis/Sportimage