Sheffield United: Anel Ahmedhodzic set to jet back to England after crushing injury blow

Anel Ahmedhodzic is returning to England for treatment on the injury which threatens to deal Sheffield United’s hopes of consolidating their grip on the Championship a major blow.
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The Bosnia and Herzegovina centre-half was diagnosed with a thigh muscle problem soon after reporting for duty with Ivaylo Petev’s side, ahead of their forthcoming matches against Montenegro and Romania.

Officials in Sarajevo have predicted the problem could take around four weeks to heal which, if their prognosis is correct, would rule Ahmedhodzic out of United’s next five outings. After facing Birmingham City following the international break, Paul Heckingbottom’s team is then scheduled to meet Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City and Blackpool before visiting Coventry City on October 19.

Anel Ahmedhodzic in action for Sheffield United at Preston North End: Simon Bellis / SportimageAnel Ahmedhodzic in action for Sheffield United at Preston North End: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Anel Ahmedhodzic in action for Sheffield United at Preston North End: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
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“The ‘A’ national team players of Bosnia and Herzegovina are preparing for the September matches of the UEFA Nations League in Zenica,” a statement, published on the Bosnian football association’s website, said. “Defender Anel Ahmedhodzic will miss this national team’s action due to injury.

“Our stopper will be absent from the pitch for at least four weeks due to the rupture of the flat muscle of the anterior thigh and will not be available…in the matches against Montenegro and Romania.”

News of Ahmedhodzic’s conditions leaves Heckingbottom in a difficult predicament, given that defenders Ciaran Clarke, Max Lowe and Ben Osborn, a midfielder who can also operate at the back, are currently confined to the treatment room. Signed from Malmo during the close season, the 23-year-old has scored three times in his first 10 appearances for United, who moved three points clear at the top of the table after beating Preston North End on Saturday. With second placed Norwich City set to make the journey to South Yorkshire on October 22nd - around the time the the Bosnians expect him to recover - it will not have gone unnoticed among coaching staff at Bramall Lane that United lost the only league fixture he has missed this term - at Watford during this season’s opening round of games.

The loss of Anel Ahmedhodzic leaves Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom with a major dilemma: Ashley Crowden / SportimageThe loss of Anel Ahmedhodzic leaves Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom with a major dilemma: Ashley Crowden / Sportimage
The loss of Anel Ahmedhodzic leaves Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom with a major dilemma: Ashley Crowden / Sportimage

Ahmedhodzic is set to be re-examined by Petev’s medical staff before boarding a plane back to this country and beginning his rehabilitation at the Randox Health Academy. Although no details on the action United plan to take have yet been provided, it is expected he will then be placed under the care of their physiotherapy department and Tom Little; the club’s new sports science and conditioning expert.

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Although the conversation surrounding United’s results since August have revolved around their attacking prowess, Heckingbottom used his interviews following the victory at Deepdale to hail the performances of a rearguard which has kept a clean sheet in each of its last four assignments.

Ahmedhodzic’s ability to roam upfield means his loss not only robs United of another key performer but could also force a change of strategy, given the emphasis Heckingbottom places on forward-thinking centre-halves.

“I see what people talk about,” Heckingbottom said, following the trip to Lancashire. “But these lads, the ones at the back and also (goalkeeper) Wes (Foderingham) don’t get talked about enough for me. So keep on doing that, by all means.”