Sheffield United: Scotland striker Oli McBurnie backed to make a big impression on his team's season

Oli McBurnie is frustrated by his failure to make a bigger impression on Sheffield United’s season, manager Paul Heckingbottom has admitted, after injury and Covid-19 issues dashed the striker’s hopes of making a flying start to the campaign.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 4:00 pm

McBurnie has not made a first team appearance since last month’s win over Cardiff City, with his last start coming against Barnsley on October 24.

Forced to isolate because of the coronavirus earlier this term, the 25-year-old is also thought to have been hurt during training ahead of Tuesday’s draw at Preston North End, which saw Ryan Lowe’s side come from two goals down despite being reduced to 10 men during the first-half.

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Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie in action against this weekend's opponents Luton Town earlier this season: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Speaking ahead of Luton Town’s visit to Bramall Lane this weekend, Heckingbottom told The Star: “Oli has been back in and working hard. We’ve got a programme with him. He’s as frustrated as I am with the run he’s had.

“As I said to him and the staff, we can moan about it or we can do something about it. He got caught in training but he’s fine.”

Being able to call upon McBurnie’s services would provide a much needed boost for a United side which has struggled for both form and results after seeing a series of postponements wreck their schedule over the Christmas and the New Year period. Heckingbottom’s men, who won all of his first three league matches at the helm, had originally been scheduled to travel to Deepdale on Boxing Day but Preston told the EFL they did not have enough players to fulfil the fixture. Meetings with Middlesbrough and Hull City were also rearranged at the opposition’s request while a date has yet to be set for United’s home clash with Queens Park Rangers.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom watches his team in action at Preston North End, alongside assistant Stuart McCall: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Although McBurnie has not been prolific since arriving at Bramall Lane in 2019, he netted 24 times in only 44 appearances during his final season at Championship rivals Swansea City. Chris Wilder, Heckingbottom’s predecessor, valued the Scotland international’s work-rate and physicality as United finished ninth in the Premier League after being promoted from the second tier under the now Middlesbrough chief.

“Oli has been doing a lot of work,” Heckingbottom said. “He’s going to be an important player for us. He’s got to keep pushing.”