Sheffield United: Chris Wilder reveals Scott Hogan’s Aston Villa dilemma
Scott Hogan will be left to decide whether or not he attends Friday's game between Sheffield United and his parent club Aston Villa.
The centre-forward, who is scheduled to spend the rest of the season on loan at Bramall Lane, is ineligible for selection under the terms of the agreement which saw him join Chris Wilder's side last week.
Acknowledging the timing of United's visit to the Midlands has placed Hogan in an unenviable position, Wilder confirmed: "To be honest, I've not really talked to Scott about it. I think it's difficult for him because he's a permanent Aston Villa player who is on loan with us at Sheffield United.
"We've got a squad that's travelling down. We'll leave it up to Scott as I totally understand the situation he's in. It's awkward.
"Like I say, we've got a squad that's going to take part in the game. Whether or not he chooses to attend, under his own steam as it were, we'll let him decide."
United's refusal to place Hogan under a three-line whip is, in part, a reflection of the lengths the player went through in order to secure his move to South Yorkshire. Speaking at his official unveiling on Friday, the 26-year-old revealed he petitioned Villa's hierarchy to accept United's offer after Steve Bruce, Dean Smith's immediate predecessor, blocked a similar approach earlier this term.
But Wilder's laissez-faire approach also highlights the importance he places on individual responsibility, with senior members of his team handed the task of overseeing dressing room affairs and how their colleagues behave away from the training ground.
If Hogan does watch the match at Villa Park, which could see United climb to the top of the Championship, it will not prove a wasted journey given the unusual tactics Wilder employs.
Speaking after last weekend's win over Bolton Wanderers, which Hogan watched from the bench, the United manager explained: "Scott will have seen how we play, close up, and that will be good for him. He'll have been making mental notes on what happened and when, the type of runs people were making and the passes they were looking for, that type of thing."
Despite edging into the automatic promotion places when second-half goals from David McGoldrick and Billy Sharp put Wanderers to the sword, United finished the evening back in the play-off positions following Norwich City's victory at Leeds.
Villa, who appointed Smith when Bruce was sacked in October, are ninth but Wilder is wary of the threat they pose.
"We've got a third of the season to go," he said. "Look at Hull, where they were then to where they are now. They've done what they've done because they've got good players and a good manager.
"They were down at the bottom, now they are pushing and Villa are a place above them."
"Just before Christmas, we were way off it," Wilder added. "Now we are pushing as well. The players have got a genuine drive and ambition."