Sheffield United deny disrespecting the FA Cup

Sheffield United were left with no choice but to rotate their squad for the FA Cup tie against AFC Fylde, manager Chris Wilder has insisted, after admitting his players had been left mentally and physically fatigued following recent meetings with Manchester City and Liverpool.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 5:59 am
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 6:05 am
Sheffield United changed their entire starting eleven for the AFC Cup tie against AFC Fylde: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

United changed their entire starting eleven when Jim Bentley’s side visited Bramall Lane, less than 72 hours after Wilder’s squad lost 2-0 at Anfield.

Four days earlier, United had also been beaten by the same scoreline at the Etihad Stadium but, crucially according to Wilder, produced a much more aggressive display at the home of the reigning Premier League title holders than when they travelled to face the champions elect.

Speaking ahead of Friday’s clash with West Ham, Wilder said: “I was going to play a strong side. But just looking at how the boys were, and the intensity of the fixtures coming up, I decided not to.

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“I have full respect for the Championship, that is intense. But at this level, we go to Manchester City and then Liverpool away from home. That is really intense.”

Wilder granted many of those who faced Jurgen Klopp’s men leave of absence following their return from Merseyside.

After playing host to West Ham, United then face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium before renewing City’s acquaintance.

“I have given the other lads a couple of days off, to go away and to clear their heads,” he said.