Sheffield United: Last minute meeting set to decide defender’s fate
Although his injury was clearly more serious than they first admitted, Sheffield United have not ruled-out parachuting Jack O'Connell straight back into their starting eleven when Millwall visit Bramall Laneon Saturday.
Manager Chris Wilder, whose side will enter the game third in the table with five matches remaining, is scheduled to meet the defender tomorrow morning before a decision is taken on his involvement.
Speaking after last night's draw with Birmingham City, the second fixture O'Connell has missed since suffering a supposedly minor calf complaint against Bristol City nearly a fortnight ago, Wilder said the former Brentford centre-half had been training "at full tilt" but refused to offer any guarantees about his availability this weekend.
If O'Connell is again ruled-out, Martin Cranie is again expected to feature at centre-half after he impressed coaching staff at St Andrews.
"Martin did well," Wilder, who could also select Gary Madine following his second-half cameo in the Midlands, said. "We'll see how Jack is and he's close, very close in fact, to being ready. He was close to playing (against Birmingham). We've got options though."
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Wilder's deliberately opaque assessment of O'Connell's condition confirms he is prepared to employ psychological as well as sporting tactics in the race for automatic promotion from the Championship. The player's athleticism makes him an important part of the 3-5-2 system which, according to commentators and opponents alike, has contributed to United's results so far this term.
They are a point behind second-placed Leeds, who face Sheffield Wednesday.
“Jack could be ready for this one or, if not, it should definitely be (Nottingham) Forest on Good Friday,” Wilder said.