The intriguing possibility the duel between George Baldock and Jayden Bogle has presented Sheffield United with
George Baldock and Jayden Bogle must battle it out for a place in Sheffield United’s starting eleven, Chris Wilder has insisted, after refusing to offer either any guarantees about their status at Bramall Lane.
Previously one of the first names on Wilder’s team sheet and a veteran of their 2019 promotion winning squad, Bogle’s performances since arriving in South Yorkshire last summer have left Baldock facing an anxious wait to discover if he is handed an immediate recall after recovering from injury.
Although he accepts Bogle’s form could present United’s coaching staff with a dilemma ahead of Monday’s Premier League game at West Ham, Wilder has explained it is exactly the type of problem they want to be wrestling with as the club fights to preserve its top-flight status.
“Jayden has done really well, but make no mistake about it, he will get put under tremendous pressure by George,” Wilder said. “That’s what we want, that’s what we are trying to create, because there’s a natural competition there which is really healthy as far as I’m concerned.
“That’s what brings the best out of people and that’s what makes them continually improve. It’s nothing to do with attitude, it’s just what happens. So that’s something I’m really pleased with.”
Despite both being wing-backs, Baldock and Bogle bring a slightly different dynamic to one of the most pivotal roles in Wilder’s 3-5-2 formation. Baldock, previously of MK Dons, is more defensively sound than his colleague. But Bogle is more effective going forward, scoring three goals in 12 outings following his move from Derby County. Max Lowe, who operates on the other side of the pitch, also made the switch from Pride Park as part of a deal which cost United an initial £5m.
Rather than deciding to favour one, the duel between Baldock and Bogle could tempt Wilder to rotate his options on a match by match basis, with the former getting to nod against more attack-minded opponents but sitting out meetings with those who prefer to defend.
Baldock was last on target 14 months ago, when he netted during United’s 2-1 victory over Norwich City at Carrow Road. A month earlier, Baldock had netted for only the third time in United colours as they drew 1-1 with Tottenham Hotspur.
“Everybody has to keep working so hard, because that gives us that strength in depth,” Wilder said. “We really need that depth there, to give ourselves the best possible chance of doing something.”
United began preparing for the trip to east London 12 points adrift of safety, despite winning six of their last nine contests in all competitions. A second-half penalty from Billy Sharp saw them end Bristol City’s FA Cup hopes on Wednesday night, reaching the quarter-finals for the second season in a row.
“We just have to keep trying to drive it forward and see where it takes us,” Wilder said. “The lads are in a good place and we have to use what we’re doing in the cup to keep us on track. There’s no reason why we can’t do that, and we’ll be giving it our best shot.”