A number of factors, including an assured debut performance against Preston North End in the FA Cup, persuaded Chris Wilder to abandon his plan to let Ben Heneghan leave Bramall Lane on loan during last month’s transfer window.
Heneghan, who joined Sheffield United from Motherwell in August, appeared destined spend the rest of the season elsewhere after being named on a list of players the Championship club conceded were in need of regular first team football.
When a move failed to materialise, numerous theories were put forward as to why. But Wilder, speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Leeds, revealed he is responsible for Heneghan’s continued presence in South Yorkshire.
“We looked at it because we have played three in midfield and Lenny (Ryan Leonard) can play as a right centre-half,” the United manager said.
“We felt maybe there might become an opportunity and I didn’t want to leave us light. If the player wanted to go out and play football - which I would totally accept, he’s seen that he’s not had a lot of opportunities - I didn’t want to leave us light and think we should have kept Ben.
“We are not overloaded with players and with playing three in midfield, if Chris Basham did get injured, I didn’t want to go change and change again.
“We made a decision and there was not a lot of time left in the second part, which goes pretty quickly. You never know where you are and it was important I looked after this football club, first and foremost.”
Heneghan, aged 24, impressed during United’s victory over North End and could appear again when Wilder’s team visits Leicester City in the fifth round later this month.
“Going back to past experiences, as a young player, you always feel: ‘Dear me, I’m wasting time, I need to be playing’, but sometimes, when you look back at the end of your career, it’s only three or four months, you never know what you might get out of that,” Wilder said.
“You might be involved in the team with a possibility of getting out of the division. It might be an experience he never forgets.”