Sheffield United: Why Lys Mousset is being eased back into action, not rushed
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has explained why Lys Mousset will not be selected for Premier League duty until Bramall Lane's conditioning department are absolutely convinced he is up to speed rather than using a series of cameo appearances to accelerate his progress.
The French centre-forward is again expected to be absent when Crystal Palace visit South Yorkshire this weekend, eight days after United opened the season with a draw against his former employers AFC Bournemouth at The Vitality Stadium.
Although United could choose to ease Mousset into action - summoning him from the bench during the closing stages of a match to hasten his return to full fitness - Wilder believes that would be unfair on the 23-year-old; potentially exposing him to unfair criticism in a division where every touch a player makes is subject to ridiculous levels of scrutiny.
Attributing Mousset's fitness levels to timing of the negotiations which led to his move, Wilder said: "With Lys, he had a little period where he fell behind a bit, with the move up here. Probably 10 days or so. First impressions are really big for me and he'll have a big future with us, he'll be a big player for us. We'll get him up to speed."
After being used sparingly during pre-season, United are aware pitching Mousset straight into a competitive fixture would be a risk and, potentially, lead to an even longer absence if he suffers an injury. But Wilder's comments reveal coaching staff take the psychological demands of professional sport into account too. The second most expensive player in the club's history, Mousset's £10m fee means he will be under immediate pressure to deliver. Neither the mainstream nor the social media commentators are particularly forgiving of players who take time to adjust. So by easing him into United's squad, Wilder is ensuring Mousset, who will bring power and pace to United's attack, has the best possible chance of making a flying start to his career in South Yorkshire.
Confirming Mousset received a glowing reference from Eddie Howe and his assistant Jason Tindall before leaving Dorset, Wilder said: "I spoke to Eddie and Jason about him. They've got Callum and Josh King at the top of the pitch and it's a challenge to get past those two. Now he's got a big challenge to get in with us."