Chris Wilder reveals Sheffield United starting XI decision after key man's fitness boost

Sheffield United have a fully fit squad at their disposal ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Aston Villa – and Chris Wilder has already picked his starting XI.
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Although several members of Wilder’s team sustained knocks during last week’s friendly against Hull City - the second of three matches designed to help them prepare for the meeting with Dean Smith’s side - he confirmed all have since recovered.

“Everyone is available, as you’d expect,” the United manager said. “We had a couple of bangs after Wednesday but the players have got minutes over the last three games and we’ve worked as hard as we can.

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“We’ve tried to give them a little bit of everything and it’s a shorter period coming back than, say, a pre-season. But the players have had a responsibility to keep themselves right and that’s what they’ve done. Of course, though, we’ll only really know when we get back out there and the ball starts rolling again.”

Admitting he has already decided on his starting eleven, Wilder said: “I always want players to push, though, I don’t think there’ll be an incredible amount of changes because there hasn’t been all season.

“But there’s no guarantees or shoe-ins. If someone comes back and absolutely rips it up, will I consider putting them in? Yes. If someone comes back and suddenly can’t do anything right, would I question them? Again, yes, of course.”

With Dean Henderson receiving permission to complete the season at Bramall Lane from Manchester United, Wilder’s selection is likely to mirror the one he made ahead of United’s last appearance - a win over Norwich City. Enda Stevens, who limped-out of that game with a calf complaint, is understood to be healthy after completing an individual treatment programme during lockdown.

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United’s trip to Villa Park will be the first game staged in England since March, when competition was suspended because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Enda Stevens was withdrawn during Sheffield United's win over Norwich City in March: Simon Bellis/SportimageEnda Stevens was withdrawn during Sheffield United's win over Norwich City in March: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Enda Stevens was withdrawn during Sheffield United's win over Norwich City in March: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Wilder’s men were seventh in the table when the fixture programme ground to a halt - only five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea with 10 outings remaining.

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