Sheffield United: Chris Wilder has sent a message to Conor Washington

Conor Washington in action for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Conor Washington in action for Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

It was instructive, as he discussed Sheffield United's new attacking options, that Chris Wilder kept shoe-horning another player's name into the conversation.

Yes, he admitted, loan signings Gary Madine and Kieran Dowell have both pressed their case for a starting role at Aston Villa. But so, after scoring during Monday's development fixture against Bolton Wanderers, has Conor Washington too.

"Conor's in there and among it," the United manager said, ahead of Friday's visit to the Midlands. "He got his goal this week and played really well. That's great to see because it brings competition, keeps everyone on their toes.

"On top of that, the more choices we've got, and the tougher they are, the better."

With Madine, Dowell and Scott Hogan, who is ineligible for selection against his parent club, all arriving at Bramall Lane during last month's transfer window, Washington must have feared his route into Wilder's team had been blocked following a summer move from Queens Park Rangers.

But, speaking at the Steelphalt Academy this morning, the 51-year-old confirmed the Northern Ireland international's pace and ability to stretch the game make him an integral part of United's promotion masterplan.

Wilder, whose third-placed side will climb to the top of the Championship if they beat Villa, said: "We've got different qualities up there, people who can bring different things to the table."