Chris Wilder has insisted he will continue to regard Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke as Sheffield United’s best attacking partnership unless Bramall Lane’s other centre-forwards prove him wrong.
Although Sharp enters tomorrow’s game against Fulham searching for his sixth goal in as many games, Clarke has failed to hit the target since January 1st following an explosive start to the Championship campaign.
Despite being the club’s leading marksman so far this term, that barren run has prompted suggestions the 33-year-old’s place in Wilder’s starting eleven could now be under threat.
But claiming Clarke has contributed in other ways, the United manager said: “If other people want to get in there, then they have to show it. Leon and Billy are in there because they deserve to be, it’s as simple as that.
“People don’t get starts here any other way than earning them. They have to show they are better than the others. Everyone is important but they won’t get in there unless they do that.”
With James Wilson still recovering from injury, Clayton Donaldson and Ched Evans provide alternative options should Wilder decide a change is necessary. United, who postponed Saturday’s match with Burton Albion due to adverse weather conditions, have rotated their squad in recent weeks but limited the majority of those to midfield.
“If Clayton wants to start, then he has to get past Billy and Leon,” Wilder continued. “If Ched wants to start, then he has to get past Billy and Leon. They haven’t done that yet but they have to get through those two if they want to be in.”
“Every single thing people do, be it a training session or a match itself, is an opportunity,” Wilder added. “And if you want to be in, you have to do your utmost to take those by showing you are better than the person in front of you. The group as a whole is important but you want that dynamic within it. You want people to push and provide that competition.”