Changing times for Lane boss

Versatile: Matthew Lowton impressed at centre-half against Leeds.
Versatile: Matthew Lowton impressed at centre-half against Leeds.
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IT was a word Micky Adams feared he would never utter again but, having professed his “delight” at Sheffield United’s performance against Leeds last weekend, the South Yorkshire club’s manager now finds himself grappling with a potentially awkward dilemma.

Whether or not to change a winning team.

Naming Matthew Lowton at centre-half proved a master-stroke against Simon Grayson’s side as the youngster, usually deployed in a full-back role, helped nullify arguably the most potent attack in Championship competition while Bjorn Helge Riise – injury permitting – pressed his claims for a recall at Queens Park Rangers next month by stepping off the bench to score United’s second goal during Saturday’s derby triumph.

Adams was justifiably cock-a-hoop after recording only the second win of his brief but turbulent reign.

However, he is acutely aware that the problems posed by the league leaders could require a different set of solutions.

“We asked Matty to do a job and he did that without fear,” Adams, who was forced to wait 14 games before his first success at Bramall Lane, said. “Whether or not that’s the innocence and naivety of youth, I don’t know.

“Whatever it is, though, I certainly wouldn’t want to take that away from him because I think there’s a ‘player’ there. There are still plenty of improvements he can make but that’s to be expected.

“Matty can play in a few different positions. He’s one of those lads who can do that so it didn’t surprise me to see him to well.”

Rangers, who are nine points clear at the top of the table after beating Doncaster Rovers four days ago, have lost just once at home this term.

United moved to within four points of safety following the 2-0 triumph over their rivals from Elland Road.

Riise has impressed since arriving on loan from Fulham and further enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a clinical finish just moments after stepping off the bench.

Like striker Darius Henderson, who missed the game through suspension, he will be hoping to earn a starting berth in West London.

Adams explained that Riise, who has been named in the Norway squad which faces Denmark in the forthcoming round of Euro 2012 qualifiers, was omitted from United’s first-choice 11 to accelerate his recovery from a hamstring complaint.

“Bjorn had only got back to training on the Thursday and so that’s why we thought it best to use him the way we did,” said Adams.

“He’d had an injection and so he needed to rest.

“The other reason why we let him go back (to Scandinavia) was because he had some matters to attend to.”

The pressure on United at Loftus Road could be immense if Crystal Palace, the team directly above them in the table, beat Barnsley 48 hours earlier.

That’s another reason why Adams, who hopes Riise, Ched Evans, Shane Lowry and Daniel Bogdanovic all return from international duty unscathed, has reason to curse the fixture planners.

Dougie Freedman, the Palace manager, insists he is not bothered by his team’s close proximity to the danger zone as the psychological battle between those scrambling to avoid the drop continues to rage.

“We are not a relegation team, even though we’re in that area,” he said. “I’m not tense, I don’t think the players are. Performance wise, we’re fine.

“We just have to carry on what we are doing.”