Sheffield United boss admits key man's injury is a "concern" ahead of crunch Cardiff City clash

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, admits he is “concerned” about George Baldock’s injury status after the Blades’ only fit and recognised right-back limped off against Bristol City on Monday.

Baldock went down towards the end of United’s 1-1 draw at Ashton Gate, which kept them in the play-off hunt with just three games now remaining of the regular season, and was immediately replaced by Ben Osborn.

Osborn, a left-footed midfield player primarily, has now been placed on standby to start as an emergency right wing-back for this weekend’s game against Cardiff City. Teenager Femi Seriki is a specialist right-sider, but has been loaned to Boston United – although it is understood he could be recalled at short notice if necessary.

“Yeah, it’s a concern,” said Heckingbottom, who saw Baldock miss a chunk of games earlier this season.

“It’s the same leg, so hopefully it’s only a warning. When bringing anyone off with a muscle injury it’s always a concern.”

Losing Baldock for any substantial chunk of time, especially at this stage of the season and with a potential play-off campaign in the offing, would represent another significant injury blow for Heckingbottom and the Blades in a remarkable campaign that has been littered with them.

George Baldock of Sheffield United goes down for treatment at Bristol City: Darren Staples / Sportimage

United were forced to face City on Monday without an out-and-out striker, pairing forwards Iliman Ndiaye and Morgan Gibbs-White together after Oli McBurnie was ruled out with a foot injury.

Privately, United’s coaching and medical staff are hoping McBurnie plays again this season but after the Scottish international damaged bone and ligaments in his foot, the imminent return from injury of Billy Sharp will be especially welcome.