Sheffield United: Why John Fleck believes Blades’ lack of Premier League experience could work in their favour next season as they prepare to face Manchester City and Co. in the top flight
John Fleck believes the lack of top-flight experience in Sheffield United's ranks could be a strength, rather than a weakness, as the countdown to Premier League football continues at Bramall Lane.
Defender Richard Stearman is comfortably the United player with the most experience in the top-flight, playing 77 times for Wolves, while Chris Basham has made 21 top-flight appearances. Enda Stevens also had a taste of the Premier League with Aston Villa earlier in his career while Billy Sharp played just twice, for a total of 18 minutes, for Southampton in the top-flight.
Despite their relative inexperience of Premier League football, though, United's players have still played in some high-pressure games - including Fleck himself, who faced Old Firm rivals Celtic during his time with Rangers and also played in the 2008 Scottish Cup final against Queen of the South at the age of just 16.
And pointing to the likes of Sharp and David McGoldrick, Fleck told The Star: "It's similar in a way to when we went up to the Championship. Not many of our players had played a lot at that level, either.
"It's one of those things I guess and it could be a good or a bad thing. We've never had that experience so we're excited going into it, and that could help us.
"I don't know what to expect as I've never played there but I don't know how some of the boys haven't played there consistently before, especially Sharpy with his goals and Didzy who's been unbelievable. But I'm sure this time around they'll get their chance, and enjoy it."
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United will next season face off against both the winners of the Champions League and Europa League in top-flight combat, and will also come up against the likes of Pep Guardiola's star-studded Manchester City side which made history this season by becoming the first team to win the domestic treble.
"It's the same game at whatever level, the ball doesn't change and we're not playing against superheroes, although some do come close," smiled Fleck.
"At the end of the game it's 11v11 for 90 minutes and that'll be our attitude, just as it has been all the way through.
"I'm sure there'll be games when it'll be really tough for us a group, but there'll be good days I'm sure. Whether we play the same way or change a little, that's for the manager to decide but we still have good players, and more will be added I'm sure.
"Of course we're excited and will be leading up to these big games, but once we get to the games it'll just be business as usual.
"Those Old Firm games seem a long time ago now, I feel old just thinking back to them! But the majority of us have played in some big games in our careers so far and I'm sure there are many more to come."