Sheffield United: Plans for Preston North End potentially thrown into disarray

Sheffield United are waiting to discover if Mark Duffy and Jack O'Connell will be available for selection against Preston North End this weekend after Chris Wilder confirmed both players are carrying injuries.

Saturday, 30th March 2019, 11:11 pm
Updated Saturday, 30th March 2019, 11:23 pm
Jack O'Connell leaves the pitch against Bristol City: James Wilson/Sportimage
Jack O'Connell leaves the pitch against Bristol City: James Wilson/Sportimage

Duffy, who had been scheduled to start Saturday's meeting with Bristol City, was forced to withdraw before the game after complaining of a sore Achilles during a routine training exercise.

With his pre-match plans already affected by the midfielder's absence, Chris Wilder was forced to make another enforced change when O'Connell damaged a calf towards the end of United's first defeat at home in the league since December.

Chris Wilder: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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Confirming Duffy and O'Connell are scheduled to undergo further tests this morning, the United manager said: "They'll be coming in and we'll be taking a look at them. It goes without saying that we're hoping they aren't too serious but it's too early to really know the extent of the problems."

With Gary Madine still serving a suspension, United could do without losing two more key players ahead of the visit to Deepdale where they will hope to regain second place in the Championship table. An Andreas Weimann hat-trick, after Wilder's men had twice led through Billy Sharp and Scott Hogan, saw the hosts relinquish their grip on an automatic promotion berth following Leeds' win over Millwall.

Despite refusing to jump to conclusions about the extent of the knocks the two men have suffered, Wilder acknowledged O'Connell's inability to finish the defeat by City suggested his could be the more problematic of the two.

"If you understand Jack, unless he's hit by a sledgehammer, he doesn't want to come off," Wilder said. "We'll assess it over the weekend. Hopefully he's not out for too long. We have a squad of players ready to step in, and substitutes ready to do well. There's no complaints about our attitude, desire or commitment."

Sheffield United's Mark Duffy is undergoing tests: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire.

Losing Duffy, who had impressed coaching staff during a recent training camp in Spain, turned out to be a portent of what was to come as City recorded their second win over United this term. It meant Kieran Dowell, scheduled to enjoy a rest after making two appearances for England under-21's during the international break, was thrust into action before being withdrawn at half-time.

"Duff had been doing really well, we've been really impressed with him, and he was due to be in from the off," Wilder said. "We'd set the plans with him in the team but had to change them.

"He was just doing a little jog around the pitch and had to stop because he felt his tendon."