Sheffield United: Chris Wilder makes an admission about his attacking selections

Goals will ultimately decide who spearheads Sheffield United's attack during the second half of the Premier League season. Not even someone as headstrong as Chris Wilder would consider overlooking a centre-forward who, for arguments's sake, has reached double figures by the time Watford visit Bramall Lane on Boxing Day.

Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 16:45 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd September 2019, 18:07 pm
Callum Robinson of Sheffield United celebrates at Stamford Bridge: James Wilson/Sportimage

But after watching all but one of his strikers get off the mark before the international break, the United manager has admitted he will continue to base his selections on in-game tactics, pre-match strategy and shape, not to mention the analysis of the opposition's strengths and weaknesses his staff undertake before every fixture.

"It's going to be horses for courses with the front two," Wilder said. "It's important you have different options, including pace and power or players for different formations. You always need that flexibility. Even more so now, given the level we're operating at."

At the beginning of the campaign, despite spending nearly £40m boosting their firepower, questions were still being asked in some quarters about United's ability to score regularly at the highest level. Although those have now been answered - David McGoldrick is the only of Wilder's marksmen yet to open his account - the 51-year-old is now grappling with a new problem. One entirely, following a successful summer in the transfer market, of his own making.

Sheffield United's Callum Robinson (centre) at Stamford Bridge: John Walton/PA Wire.

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All of the players he brought in - Lys Mousset, Callum Robinson and record signing Oli McBurnie - bring something different to the table. Billy Sharp, the driving force behind last term's promotion from the Championship, embarked upon his third spell at Bramall Lane in 2015 but remains the best finisher at the football club.

"Everybody has got a role to play," Wilder said. "It's a long season too. The people doing well now, the ones who are starting, might not be the ones who are starting later on. You have got to be ready to step in at a moment's notice."

Wilder's willingness to rotate if the situation demands must also be balanced against a player's desire to achieve some sort of rhythm. For example Mousset - who got the final touch on the ball when United equalised at Chelsea last weekend, despite it officially being recorded as a Kurt Zouma own goal - will hope to start when United return to action against Southampton later this month. But so too will McBurnie, after being largely limited to appearances from the bench, and Robinson following his profitable afternoon in London. After reducing the deficit following Tammy Abraham's brace, he provided the assist for Mousset's effort. Sharp watched the drama unfold from the dug-outs and, after hitting the target at AFC Bournemouth four weeks ago, can justifiably feel aggrieved that his only start since has come in the Carabao Cup. Ensuring everyone remains hungry, happy and properly motivated, even if it means channelling a feeling of injustice, is a trick Wilder has perfected since building a career in coaching.

"The good thing is, we've got different options for different situations," he said. "We're flexible and that means we won't become predictable. Sometimes, it's impossible to predict what situations will arise during a game. So you need to be able to have to tools to react and try and do something about it."

Chris Wilder and Lys Mousset: James Wilson/Sportimage