Sheffield United: This is why the international break could not have come at a better time for two members of the squad

With eight members of his first team squad away on international duty and the race for automatic promotion from the Championship still delicately poised, Chris Wilder could be forgiven for cursing the scheduling of this month's Euro 2020 qualifiers.

Monday, 18th March 2019, 3:24 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 3:28 pm
Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson (right) and John Egan : Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

As they oversee a warm-weather training camp in Spain, the Sheffield United manager and his staff will be hoping none of those selected by their respective countries sustain injuries or knocks.

But for two of those missing the trip to Valencia, the timing of their call-ups could be a blessing in disguise. After making a combined total of only 11 senior starts since August, Conor Washington and Scott Hogan will benefit from being involved with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Especially as their United colleague and fellow centre-forward Gary Madine is suspended for the next two Championship games.

John Fleck: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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Although Hogan played the first-half of the victory over Brentford, returning to the bench for Saturday's win at Leeds, Washington has not featured in any of United's last seven outings. But with Madine ruled-out until next month's visit to Birmingham City, the former Queens Park Rangers marksman will find himself back in contention if Wilder's attacking options are further diminished between now and April 10th's outing at St Andrews.

It was noticeable that Billy Sharp, United's captain and leading goalscorer this term, shoehorned Washington's name into conversation ahead of their success in West Yorkshire.

"We've got some good choices up there" he said. "And Conor is definitely one of those. He's a class player. Don't forget that."

Washington could enjoy an opportunity to stretch his legs when Michael O'Neill's side begin their Group C campaign against Estonia on Thursday before Belarus visit Belfast three days later.

Conor Washington: David Klein/Sportimage

Hogan, on loan from Aston Villa, is among four United players selected by Mick McCarthy, O'Neill's opposite number in Dublin, for the group D meetings with Gibraltar and Georgia. John Egan, Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick are also set to spend the next seven days at the FAI's training base in Abbotstown.

John Fleck is preparing to travel to Kazakhstan and San Marino with Scotland, who have been placed in Group I, while Dean Henderson and Hogan's fellow loanee Kieran Dowell are set to represent England under-21's during their double-header against Poland and Germany.

Both appeared at Elland Road, as Chris Basham's goal saw United climb to second in the table.

When are the 'International Blades' in action?The Republic of Ireland (John Egan, Enda Stevens, Scott Hogan, David McGoldrick): Saturday, Tuesday.Northern Ireland (Conor Washington): Thursday, Sunday.Scotland (John Fleck): Thursday, Sunday.England under-21's (Dean Henderson, Kieran Dowell): Thursday, Tuesday.

Enda Stevens: Simon Bellis/Sportimage


David McGoldrick: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Kieran Dowell: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Scott Hogan: Simon Bellis/Sportimage