Frustrated Sheffield United boss explains John Egan Tottenham absence after George Baldock injury blow
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Paul Heckingbottom made the decision not to risk John Egan at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday after the Sheffield United captain returned injured from international duty with the Republic of Ireland. The defender damaged his knee and ankle before the break, against Everton, but played in both Ireland’s games over the break before missing out at Spurs.
With defender George Baldock and striker Will Osula also reporting back to Sheffield with injury issues of their own, it raised the old club-v-country debate once more against supporters. Baldock and Osula were also absent from the matchday squad for the cruel defeat at Spurs, with the Greek international wing-back set to be missing until next month with a calf issue.
“Egs isn’t 100 per cent so I made the decision,” boss Heckingbottom explained. “I knew it’d be a tough game with lots of sprinting and I wouldn’t want to carry a player. He understands that and he’ll be better for the couple of days extra to get over it and prepare for next week.”
Asked if he was frustrated that Egan travelled with Ireland and played in both their games before reporting back injured, Heckingbottom admitted: “Yeah, obviously. If he hadn’t played he’d have been fit but we can’t dictate to teams, it’s an international break and they take priority. We have to live with the consequences. John is a proud Irishman. I never had that opportunity [to play international football]. I would have loved to play for England but wasn’t good enough.
“It would have been down to John but we can’t stop anyone. I wouldn’t want to. John wants to play in every game, he put himself forward [at Spurs] but I knew he wasn’t right so I wouldn’t play him. Anel [Ahmedhodzic] had a similar moment last time he went away with Bosnia but he didn’t get looked after properly and it put him out. So there’s nothing we could do. It was an international break and they take precedence. It’s the way it goes.”
Baldock’s absence means Jayden Bogle is set for an extended run in the side after an impressive display against Spurs, but United hope that Egan will recover in time to face Newcastle United at Bramall Lane on Sunday. Bogle, goalscorer Gus Hamer and the returning James McAtee all went off in north London, but only with cramp.