Paul Heckingbottom makes a claim about John Lundstram, as the midfielder looks set to leave Sheffield United

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As John Lundstram prepares to bring down the curtain on his Sheffield United career, Paul Heckingbottom has sought to defend the midfielder against charges he has lacked commitment since rejecting the club’s final invitation to agree a new contract.

Tomorrow’s match against Burnley, which marks the end of United’s stay in the Premier League, is also expected to be Lundstram’s final assignment at Bramall Lane before he empties his locker, says his goodbyes and then walks off into the sunset. Or rather, towards one of the teams which have been waiting to pounce since it became apparent he sees his future elsewhere.

With Lundstram’s form plummeting as quickly as United’s results over the course of a campaign which has also seen them part company with their two-time promotion winning manager Chris Wilder the 27-year-old has been accused of putting his own interests before those of the squad as a whole by supporters in recent months.

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But speaking ahead of the meeting with Sean Dyche’s side, Heckingbottom, who has been in temporary charge since March, said: “One thing I’ll say about Lunny, and I want this on record, is that he’s been fantastic in training and he applies himself well.

Sheffield United midfielder John Lundstram (R): Andrew Yates / SportimageSheffield United midfielder John Lundstram (R): Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Sheffield United midfielder John Lundstram (R): Andrew Yates / Sportimage

“He’s found himself in a difficult situation. We’ll see how it pans out. But I want it on record that he’s been nothing other than totally professional ever since we came in.”

Signed from Oxford United in 201, Lundstram’s negotiations with United about the terms of a proposed new deal have changed the tone of the final chapters of his story in South Yorkshire. Wilder, who was responsible for signing Lundstram in the first place, became so frustrated by the situation that he instructed United to try and sell him during the January transfer window. Even though, less than three months earlier, he had also attempted to soften Lundstram’s image with the fans.

With Lundstram set to become a free agent later this summer, Heckingbottom said: “We’ll see what happens. But I will only be picking a team to try and win, not basing it on sentiment. That’s the way it has to be.”