The latest dilemma Sheffield United face regarding striker Lys Mousset
Sheffield United are expected to resist the temptation to hand Lys Mousset his first start of the season when Leicester City visit Bramall Lane this weekend, despite hearing manager Chris Wilder describe the French centre-forward as a potential “game changer” in the battle for Premier League survival.
Mousset made his return to action following toe surgery against West Bromwich Albion last weekend, with Wilder introducing him as a substitute during the closing stages of the fixture as United unsuccessfully chased a late equaliser.
Speaking after the game, United’s manager admitted Mousset would only have been able to “play a quarter of an hour at best” after spending nearly three months on the sidelines.
Aware the centre-forward’s pace and unpredictability can change the course of a contest, Wilder is understandably keen to hand him a more prominent role over the coming weeks, as United attempt to lift themselves off the foot of the table.
But with Mousset missing a large part of United’s preparation programme for the new campaign - concerns were expressed about his overall conditioning levels at the time - Wilder recognises the need to ease the 24-year-old back into action rather than parachute him straight into the starting eleven like John Fleck. Despite only declaring himself available for selection a week earlier, the midfielder completed 90 minutes of United’s recent meeting with West Ham before also featuring at The Hawthorns. However, Fleck’s fitness levels have never been a cause for concern.
Given United’s poor form in front of goal since returning to action in September - they have scored only four times this term, with two of those efforts coming from the penalty spot - Wilder has been encouraged by Mousset’s response to doubts about his lifestyle away from the pitch.
Although United envisage Mousset forming a potentially exciting partnership with fellow youngster Rhian Brewster, who became their record signing when he completed a £23.5m move from Liverpool during the summer transfer window, they are unlikely to pair them together until the former AFC Bournemouth marksman’s rehabilitation is complete.