Chris Wilder responds to Vini Souza comments after Sheffield United man's Brazil claim raises eyebrows

Chris Wilder responds after Vini Souza's Brazil comments raise eyebrows amongst Sheffield United supporters
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Chris Wilder has challenged Sheffield United midfielder Vini Souza to "do his talking on the pitch" in the final 10 games of the Premier League season, despite insisting that the Brazilian's recent comments in the media were "not an issue at all". The 24-year-old sparked debate amongst Unitedites earlier in the month with an interview to an outlet based in his homeland.

Speaking to Flamengo-dedicated outlet Coluna do Fla, in an interview unsanctioned by United, Souza was asked if he hoped for a call-up to the Brazil squad under the new coach Dorival Júnior and replied in Portuguese that he did not - "Not because of me, but at the situation at my club." Souza was insistent that on form he was worthy of a call-up to his national team but admitted that United "not keeping the ball much" likely weighed against him.

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The translated answer led many to believe that the 24-year-old was passing on responsibility for United's current troubles - they face Fulham on Saturday bottom of the Premier League table and eight points adrift of safety, with 10 games to go - to his teammates, rather than accepting his share for a generally underwhelming season since his big-money summer move.

Asked for his reaction to Souza's interview ahead of the clash with Marco Silva's side, boss Wilder - who dropped Souza from the starting XI for United's last game before the international break, away at Bournemouth, admitted: "It's not an issue at all for me or for the players. I should imagine the players have dealt with it. All I will say is players have got to do their talking on the pitch, not in the media. They've got to produce really good performances.

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"I spoke to Vini recently and it's a big 10 games for him. He got left out of the team for his performance against Arsenal and he's been up and down, as a lot of the players have been this season. He needs to show consistency and if he shows consistency, then he'll get the plaudits he's after. And off the back of that comes the recognition from afar.

"All of us have got to get our heads down and produce the goods on the pitch. All of us have got to do what we need to do - whether it's the manager, the coach or more importantly the lucky ones who have the opportunity at three o'clock on a Saturday afternoon, to answer all the questions about them individually and as a team in that two hours of football."

Souza's point about United's possession stats is backed up by the statistics, which show United's average of just over 35 per cent is comfortably the lowest in the Premier League, while only one player - Fulham's João Palhinha, who he could come up against this weekend at Bramall Lane - has made more tackles in the top flight this season. Boss Dorival was robbed of Manchester United's Casemiro for their recent friendlies against England and Spain but was still able to call upon the likes of Andreas Pereira, Bruno Guimaraes, Douglas Luiz, Joao Gomes and Lucas Paqueta ahead of Souza, who has not represented his country since U20 level.

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