Sheffield United: Ben Osborn's footballing intelligence is praised as two more potential solutions to The Blades' width issue emerge

Slavisa Jokanovic says Ben Osborn’s footballing intelligence could help solve one of the problems to emerge from a transfer window which saw Sheffield United try and fail to bring a dedicated winger to Bramall Lane.

Monday, 13th September 2021, 12:08 pm

After excelling in a new attack-minded role during last weekend’s 6-2 win over Peterborough, Osborn is expected to again be tasked with providing some width to United’s play when Preston North End visit Bramall Lane tomorrow night.

The former Nottingham Forest midfielder, who has also been deployed as a wing-back on numerous occasions since leaving the City Ground, scored twice against Darren Ferguson’s side and impressed Jokanovic with the ease with which he adapted to the challenge of operating alongside striker Billy Sharp.

“For me, to be honest, I have used him in many different positions,” the United manager told The Star. “Sometimes I am worried that I might confuse him. This could happen but he always adapts very well, and having that (flexibility) at our disposal is very important and valuable for us.”

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Despite signing Robin Olsen, Conor Hourihane and Morgan Gibbs-White on loan before last month’s deadline - the latter, acquired from Wolverhampton Wanderers, also excelled during Saturday’s contest - the collapse of a deal for Barcelona’s Alex Collado left Jokanovic searching in-house for someone capable of providing a threat along the flanks.

“It’s only more or less a natural winger I am thinking of,” said Jokanovic, identifying some of the other possibilities he is considering ahead of the meeting with North End. “I am thinking also of (Oliver) Burke and even Rhian Brewster, who can open up little bits.”

Ben Osborn of Sheffield Utd (l) celebrates with Oli McBurnie of Sheffield Utd after scoring the sixth goal during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Rhian Brewster (R) is also in Slavisa Jokanovic's thinking: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Oliver Burke can also operate out wide, says Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic: Andrew Yates/Sportimage