Klich, Berge, Rodrigo, Egan... Battle of the walking wounded this weekend as Sheffield United face Leeds United
It will be a battle of the walking wounded this weekend when Sheffield United travel to Leeds United in their first game after the international break.
Both sides will have a host of key men missing at Elland Road, on the final stretch of contrasting seasons. United travel to West Yorkshire 14 points from safety, while Leeds are 13 clear of the drop zone.
Jack O’Connell and Sander Berge remain absentees, despite the Norwegian midfielder travelling with his national team and being pictured on the grass during the break, while Billy Sharp isn’t expected to be fit to face his former club after suffering a hip flexor injury before United’s last game at Chelsea.
But Chris Basham, who scored the winner when the two sides last met at Elland Road, may return after United used the international break to allow his knock to heal.
Leeds have recently welcomed back Robin Koch after knee surgery, but there are question marks over striker Rodrigo who picked up another injury before the break. Liam Cooper was excused from Scotland duty after contracting Covid-19, while Pablo Hernandez hasn’t played for almost a month.
There is ongoing uncertainty about Mateusz Klich’s availability too, after he returned a positive coronavirus test while away with Poland.
Paul Heckingbottom, the temporary Blades boss, could be dealt another injury headache ahead of the meeting with his former club after Enda Stevens returned early from international duty with the Republic of Ireland this week.
“We just need players back,” Heckingbottom said. “That’s the biggest thing, the thing that’s going to make the biggest difference for us.
“I’m not saying anything dramatic here. I think it’s pretty obvious that anyone, even those clubs right at the top of the division, would find it difficult with so many out.
“I’ve asked for dates when we can expect to have some of these players back out there on the pitch.
“I just want to deal with what I and the rest of us here can influence. That’s the football.
“So all I’ve asked for is a timescale on these players and that’s been drawn up. Hopefully we should get most of them back before the end.”