Two months ago, at the beginning of the season, Chris Wilder insisted sentiment would never be allowed to cloud his judgement when it came to the business of selecting a team.
But, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Leeds, the Sheffield United manager admitted he felt a degree of sympathy for some of those players who are likely to miss the game through no fault of their own.
“You feel a bit sorry for some of them,” Wilder said. “John Lundstram has dropped out after doing well. Danny Lafferty has had to put up with Enda Stevens being superb. Jake Wright isn’t playing at the moment and Richard Stearman is back out on the grass They can’t all get in but they are all contributing.”
The fact Wilder felt compelled to raise the matter suggests even he is surprised by the depth of quality which exists within his squad. During the closing stages of the summer transfer window, when the likes of Wolves and Middlesbrough were lavishing millions on players, fears were expressed that United, fresh out of League One, would struggle to cope if key names such as Billy Sharp, Paul Coutts and Stearman were indisposed. However, both Sharp and Stearman missed last month’s victory over Sheffield Wednesday while Coutts was absent when United dispatched Ipswich Town a fortnight ago. The emergence of Lundstram, David Brooks and Cameron Carter-Vickers has provided Wilder with a greater degree of flexibility than perhaps even he appreciated.
“Cameron has come in and been superb as a young player,” he said. “He gives us that athletic ability to get up the pitch. They’ve all done great, they’re all enjoying it which is great to see.”