Paul Heckingbottom's update on Chris Basham's fitness after key Sheffield United man's mystery injury
Chris Basham could be the next Sheffield United player to return to action following injury, although boss Paul Heckingbottom is expected to resist the temptation to rush the influential defender back into training.
Basham was pulled out of United’s FA Cup clash with Chelsea on the eve of the game, after a knock he picked up in training refused to settle down enough to enable him to play without pain.
United hoped that the issue would clear up over the international break, but Basham was a notable absentee from the teamsheet at the weekend when United lost 2-1 to Leeds United.
United’s defensive injury worries worsened at Elland Road, when Jayden Bogle and George Baldock were both taken off with concussion-related issues. But there was some respite when John Egan came off the bench, making his own return after he suffered a toe injury away at West Ham in mid-February.
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“Bash is probably the one who could be next back in training, but we’ve got to see how he reacts when we increase his training load,” boss Heckingbottom admitted.
“It’s a strange one, Bash’s injury. We thought it was a kick and we wondered if it was a muscle tear, but it wasn’t. It seems to be a bit of bleeding from a contact that’s restricting him.
“But he’s had a good week and hopefully we’ll be able to progress him next week.”
Basham’s absence, combined with Egan’s toe issue and Jack O’Connell’s knee surgery at the start of the season, meant that United faced Marcelo Bielsa’s men without any of their established three central defenders.
Sander Berge is also injured, after damaging a hamstring back in December, meaning that Heckingbottom’s options to change the team around are somewhat limited as he prepares his squad for Sunday’s clash with Arsenal at Bramall Lane, which United will go into bottom of the Premier League table and bracing themselves for a return to the Championship.
“I’d love to have everyone fit and available,” Heckingbottom, who assumed temporary charge of United when Chris Wilder left Bramall Lane last month, admitted.
“I know you can only pick 11 but then at least you have opportunities to change things around.”