Sheffield United: Four things to look out for when Slavisa Jokanovic's men begin their EFL Cup adventure

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After being beaten by Birmingham City on Saturday, Sheffield United return to action when Carlisle visit South Yorkshire in the first round of the EFL Cup.

The Star’s James Shield identifies some of the things to look out for during tomorrow night’s tie.

THE RESULT: It goes without saying that United want to win. And that all wins are important. But some, although people involved in football won’t say so publicly, are more important than others. After losing their opening match of the new Championship campaign, United won’t want to travel to Swansea City this weekend on the back of two defeats. Particularly when you consider this is a team which lacks confidence and self-belief after being relegated - and relegated so convincingly - from the Premier League last season. If they had beaten Birmingham, a shock loss to Carlisle could easily have been shrugged off. United don’t have that luxury now.

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JAYDEN BOGLE: One of the players thought to have been affected by the recent Covid-19 outbreak among United’s squad, Bogle could return to action against the visitors from Cumbria. Having played only a handful of minutes during pre-season, the former Derby County defender was never going to start last weekend’s game against Birmingham. But he could be pitched into action here.

Enda Stevens is recovering from injuryEnda Stevens is recovering from injury
Enda Stevens is recovering from injury

The two biggest winners of the meeting with Bowyer’s side were Bogle and Enda Stevens; neither of whom set foot on the pitch. Ben Osborn is a fine player and will have an important role this term. However he is a midfielder by nature. And certainly not a full-back, with United switching to a back four under the Serb. No blame should be attached to Osborn for United’s result at the weekend. But Bogle and Stevens, who is still recovering from injury, would have instinctively sensed the danger when Maxime Colin ran to meet Jeremie Bela’s cross more quickly and prevented the Frenchman from connecting with the ball so cleanly. Bogle needs minutes ahead of United’s trip to Wales. He should get some here.

YOUNGSTERS: Losing to Birmingham has probably limited Jokanovic’s room for manoeuvre in terms of team selection. But he needs to make changes, as United attempt to ensure their squad - not simply their starting eleven - gets properly fit as quickly as possible following a truncated pre-season campaign. The emergence of a promising crop of young players was one of the few positive things to happen at Bramall Lane last term. Having taken charge of the club last month, Jokanovic is now responsible for overseeing the next phase of their development. This is an opportunity for him to take a look at some of them in a competitive environment.

ESTABLISHED NAMES: United knew what they were trying to do against Birmingham. But for periods of the game, it was clear they weren’t quite sure how to actually achieve it. After seeing their summer schedule wrecked by the coronavirus pandemic, that shouldn’t come as a surprise either. United spent the week telling anyone who would listen they were ready for the game. But what else could they say? Having taken part in only two pre-season friendlies, Jokanovic’s players were never going to be fully conversant with his game plan. The more games they take part in, the more they should understand.