"He doesn’t stop talking" - Sheffield United star backs team mate to fill void left by injured Jack O'Connell

Ben Osborn has backed his pal Jack Robinson to fill in for the injured Jack O'Connell as the influential defender prepares to go under the knife to correct a knee problem.

Tuesday, 29th September 2020, 6:00 am

O'Connell, a mainstay in United's side that rose from League One into the Premier League in just three seasons, is expected to miss the remainder of the season after the decision was made for him to undergo surgery on a long-standing knee problem.

Chris Wilder, the United manager, admitted that O'Connell "had a couple of issues" with the knee as a young player, and revealed that the player has not been fully-fit for some time.

And his absence opens the door for Robinson to claim that spot for the foreseeable future - a chance his former Nottingham Forest teammate Osborn is backing him to grasp.

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"Losing Jack is a big loss," Osborn admitted, after Sunday's Yorkshire derby defeat to Leeds.

"If he has been struggling then it needs sorting so we can have a fully-fit Jack O'Connell.

"But Jack is more than comfortable in that position. I like the way that he plays and tackles.

"He doesn't stop talking while we're out on the pitch, either, so he's good to play with down that left-hand side. He fits in quite comfortably."

Jack Robinson of Sheffield United: Darren Staples/Sportimage

O'Connell is expected to go under the knife later this week, after discussions between United's medical staff, a specialist in London and the player himself.

The former Brentford defender has made that left-sided centre-half position his own since Wilder's decision to switch to a variation of 3-5-2 early in his Bramall Lane tenure.

O'Connell has played over 170 times for United since making the switch for a bargain £500,000 fee.

He adapted well to life in the Premier League following United's promotion from the Championship, and may have fancied his chances of breaking into Gareth Southgate's England squad this season - especially if Southgate persisted with the three-at-the-back formation he returned to for the recent draw with Denmark.

Ben Osborn of Sheffield United (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Wilder has presented the Bramall Lane board with a list of replacements for O'Connell, and is continuing his pursuit of a new striker before next Monday's transfer deadline for Premier League teams to do business with each other.

Jack O'Connell has been struggling with a knee injury for some time: Simon Bellis/Sportimage