Chris Wilder hails Sheffield United skipper Billy Sharp’s professionalism after striker nets fifth goal of season

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Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder led the tributes to skipper Billy Sharp after his goal against Preston North End on Saturday, praising the striker's dedication, work rate and condition.

The 32-year-old netted his 208th league goal since the turn of the Millennium - which puts him level with Wayne Rooney in the scoring charts - in Saturday's 3-2 victory over Preston, which sent Wilder's men fourth in the Championship table and saw them get back to winning ways after defeat at Bristol City and drawing at home to Birmingham City.

Sharp tapped home from close range to put United ahead after Kieron Freeman and David McGoldrick combined, and Chris Basham added a second to seemingly put Wilder's side in complete control. 

But quickfire goals from Callum Robinson and Daniel Johnson saw the visitors drag themselves level, before McGoldrick added a late winner from Enda Stevens' superb run and cross.

And Wilder said: "It was a perfect goal for Bill, after a great ball by Kieron.

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"You talk about having confidence in players and centre-forwards, and that's another goal for his tally. And I have to applaud his work rate, hold-up play and condition of himself as an athlete this year.

"He's dedicated himself - although he could go and kill me by having ten pints and a curry after the game - but the way he sets himself up to play, you have to be dedicated.

"Another year on, people didn't think he could do it in the Championship and yet he's here, scoring goals.

"It's great for him, and those type of goals are great for a centre-forward... every striker would love one of those."

Billy Sharp celebrates his goal against Preston

Billy Sharp celebrates his goal against Preston

Sharp needs just 11 goals to draw level with former Southampton teammate Rickie Lambert as the highest scorer in the EFL since 2000. Lambert netted 219 times for clubs including Stockport, Rochdale, Bristol Rovers and the Saints, and Sharp will have one eye on drawing level with his old pal this season.

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"At 2-0 it's a score where you always need another goal to kill the game off and we had opportunities to do so, but they showed spirit and fight and got back into it,” added Wilder.

"It's been a difficult week, we deserved something from a long trip to Bristol, in midweek I possibly made too many changes and that affected our fluency. So to end it with three points having recovered from the setback of being pegged back is very pleasing."