Sheffield United: Blades receive huge injury boost

Jack O'Connell is expected to feature for Sheffield United against Preston North End on Saturday after the injury which had threatened his involvement proved less serious than first feared.

By James.Shield1
Wednesday, 03 April, 2019, 18:26
Jack O'Connell has returned to training: James Wilson/Sportimage

The defender, one of the most influential members of Chris Wilder's first team squad, limped-off with a calf problem during the closing stages of last weekend's defeat by Bristol City.

Renowned for his durability - the 25-year-old recently completed a century of consecutive league starts for the club - the sight of O'Connell failing to complete a game had prompted Wilder to speculate he could be forced to miss the visit to Deepdale, where United will attempt to regain second-place in the Championship table.

But those concerns eased when O'Connell reported for work this morning.

"Jack has trained so that's good news," Wilder said. "He's been back out there on the grass which is great to see.

"Obviously we're not 100 per cent sure yet, so we'll see how he goes on through the week. But we're hopeful he'll be okay for the game."

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Although Wilder has been encouraged by O'Connell's progress, Mark Duffy remains a major doubt for both the trip to Lancashire and next week's meeting with Birmingham City.

The midfielder had been in line to start against Lee Johnson's side but was forced to withdraw due to an Achilles complaint. His absence - Duffy is known to have impressed coaching staff with his work during the international break - turned out to be crucial as United were forced to revise their plans and select several players who were scheduled to be handed a rest after representing their countries.

Despite twice taking the lead, United suffered their first loss since January when City's Andreas Weimann completed his hat-trick late on.

"We've got a squad and lads who are ready to come in," Wilder, whose side are third with seven fixtures remaining, said. "Everybody plays a part and it's all about the group."