MICHAEL Doyle was last night hailed as the unsung hero of Sheffield United’s midfield by teammate Neill Collins.
Although the return of playmaker Kevin McDonald from injury has captured the imagination of supporters, Collins insisted the importance of Bramall Lane’s combative captain should not be overlooked as Danny Wilson’s side attempt to regain second place in the League One table.
“I’m sure Macca would say that Doyler has been great for him this season,” said Collins.
“They complement each other really well and they’re good for one another because they’ve both got different strengths.”
Wilson’s reign has been characterised by his reticence to lavish praise on individuals.
All players, he publicly insists at least, are equal.
But, as the story of United’s season reveals, some are more equal than others.
While Collins was quick to praise Doyle’s contribution to McDonald’s majestic displays this term, the Scottish central defender has also become one of the most influential members of Wilson’s squad.
United, who will be hoping to record their 16th clean sheet of the campaign against Chesterfield tonight, concede an average of one goal per game in league competition when Collins anchors their back four.
But that figure almost doubled to 1.75 when the 28-year-old’s absence due to a private family matter coincided with Matthew Lowton and Harry Maguire also becoming ineligible for selection.
All three are expected to be on duty when John Sheridan’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy winners arrive at Bramall Lane.
“The lads up front get all of the attention and I don’t begrudge them that at all,” added Collins. “But I know they appreciate what others bring to the table as well because we’re a strong team.
“It’s great to have Macca back in because he’s an important player for us.
“And, to be honest, our performances probably weren’t as good as they had been when people like him, Harry and Lowts were out.”
Meanwhile, United and Sheffield Wednesday season-ticket-holders are being offered free entry to tomorrow’s rugby league fixture between Sheffield Eagles and Halifax at Bramall Lane.
Holders of a match ticket for United’s meeting with Chesterfield can also watch the contest for nothing providing they produce their ticket stub at the stadium’s John Street entrance.