Sheffield United set for goalkeeper boost ahead of visit to Arsenal

Michael Verrips, the Sheffield United goalkeeper, will return to training this week after completing his mandatory concussion protocol.

Sunday, 12th January 2020, 9:36 pm

Verrips missed last weekend’s Premier League fixture against West Ham having been diagnosed with the injury following United’s FA Cup win over AFC Fylde, when he was helped from the pitch after colliding with a team mate.

With Simon Moore recovering from the groin complaint he sustained ahead of last month’s visit to Brighton and Hove Albion, United manager Chris Wilder recalled Jake Eastwood back to Bramall Lane for the meeting with David Moyes’ side to provide cover for Dean Henderson.

However, with Verrips set to receive the all-clear and Moore entering the closing stages of his rehabilitation programme, United will arrange another loan for the youngster before this month’s transfer deadline.

Eastwood had been scheduled to spend the season with League Two club Scunthorpe, where he made nearly 20 appearances before being summoned home.

“Michael should be okay,” Wilder said. “We had no choice but to leave him out and quite right, because the player’s welfare has to come first. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Simon is back out there, on the grass, so he’s coming along nicely,” he added. “He’s not too far away now but we didn’t want to take any risks with him either. Because both of them have got important contributions to make.”

Despite insisting Eastwood had benefited from training with United’s senior squad last term, Wilder explained it is now imperative the 23-year-old Steelphalt Academy graduate continues his development at either English Football League or National Conference level.

Dean Henderson of Sheffield Utd replaces a Michael Verrips after he was substituted following a clash of heads during the FA Cup match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“We’ve seen how much Jake has come on since he’s been playing proper men’s football if you like,” Wilder said. “It’s brought him on leaps and bounds, not only as a player but as a professional too. There’s no substitute for it.”

Back to front: If the importance of a good goalkeeper was in doubt, it certainly shouldn’t be following United’s meeting with West Ham. The visitors have been transformed since Lukasz Fabianski returned from injury. When he succumbed to the same complaint at the beginning of Friday night’s game, his replacement Martin was guilty of gifting United what proved to be the only strike of the game.

At the other end of the pitch, Dean Henderson produced two fine saves to deny Manuel Lanzini. His presence spreads confidence through the entire United team. Gareth Southgate, the England manager, can not have failed to have been impressed as he watched the drama unfold from the stands.

With Henderson almost certain to be in the next England squad, his value is rising by the week.

England manager Gareth Southgate in attendance during the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: 10th January 2020. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Given his age, though, trying to sign the 22-year-old on a permanent basis should be one of United’s top priorities when his loan from Manchester United expires this summer. Even if it means they must sacrifice some funding elsewhere.