Sheffield United: Major dilemma ahead of Hull City as players push themselves through pain barrier
Paul Heckingbottom has confessed he is being forced to tinker with Sheffield United’s starting eleven to prevent Bramall Lane’s casualty list spiralling out of control.
Revealing how delicate the situation behind the scenes is, the United manager told The Star that several members of the squad which drew 0-0 with Huddersfield Town yesterday would ordinarily have been ordered to sit out the match because of fitness issues.
But with his team chasing promotion and strikers Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick in danger of missing the rest of the season, Heckingbottom admitted he is wary of asking them to push themselves through the pain barrier again when Hull City visit South Yorkshire on Tuesday.
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“Some of the changes we are making are going to be enforced, because we are managing people through situations,” Heckingbottom said. “There’s going to be times when we’re going to need them to be left out. That’s going to be the pattern of the season. It’s going to continue and that’s why we are constantly talking with the medical team. They’re giving us all the information we need to be able to make informed decisions on things like this.”
Unbeaten in six after their stalemate at the John Smith’s Stadium, a fixture schedule wrecked by a spate of postponements over Christmas and New Year threatens to be one of the biggest hurdles United must overcome as they chase a return to the Premier League. Eighth in the table, three points outside of the play-off positions, the meeting with Huddersfield was their third Championship assignment in the space of eight days. United must contest four more matches, including the clash with City, before the end of the month.
“Everyone is going to be needed,” Heckingbottom said. “Everyone is going to be called upon at some stage, there’s no doubt about that.”
Brewster, United’s record signing, underwent a surgical procedure to cure a hamstring problem last week. McGoldrick, meanwhile, suffered what Heckingbottom described as “significant” damage to a thigh muscle during the recent victory over West Bromwich Albion.
“People are doing what they have to do to get themselves through situations,” Heckingbottom said. “We’ll give them all the help they need. But there are times when we are going to have to change things around a bit, and not just for tactical reasons.”