Sheffield United address Phil Jagielka's future as they wave goodbye to the Premier League
Phil Jagielka’s introduction during the closing stages of Sheffield United’s win over Burnley was not a sentimental decision, Paul Heckingbottom insisted, after handing the centre-half what could be his final outing at Bramall Lane.
Jagielka, who turns 39 in August, replaced Ben Osborn towards the end of the meeting with Sean Dyche’s side as United successfully protected the lead David McGoldrick had given them early in the first half.
With his contract set to expire later this summer, Jagielka faces an uncertain future in South Yorkshire as United prepare to reveal the identity of the manager set to be handed the task of leading them back into the Premier League following this term’s relegation.
Placed in caretaker charge when Chris Wilder parted company with United in March, Heckingbottom said: “That was game-management, not sentiment, when we brought Jags on. Burnley were beginning to load bodies into the box and we’d taken off one tall player in Jebbo (Daniel Jebbison) so we wanted and needed some presence. I thought Jags really showed his experience, stepping in and doing what he did as well as breaking things up in their midfield.”
“Listen, I would have been determined to get Jags out there on the pitch anyway,” Heckingbottom added. “I’d thought about it beforehand and decided, if the game allowed it, I’d want to try and get him on. We always had that in mind. But when we did bring him on, that actually wasn’t in my mind, because we needed someone like him out there.”
Despite still searching for Wilder’s permanent replacement, United must shortly inform the likes of Jagielka and Kean Bryan, whose deal is also set to run out, if they will be invited to remain with the club next season.
Midfielder John Lundstram, an unused substitute against Burnley, appears destined to depart after rejecting several offers to extend his own terms and conditions.
“We need a decision and the sooner the better, I think everyone agrees,” Heckingbottom said, referencing the managerial situation. “There’s things that need doing and people that need talking to.
“That’s the way I see it, from my perspective, about what will be best for the club. But, clearly, it also has to be the right one.”