Sheffield United: Covid-19 leaves Slavisa Jokanovic facing a big selection call for Saturday's Championship opener against Birmingham City
Sheffield United’s inability to secure alternative opponents for Saturday’s scheduled friendly against Norwich City, after Daniel Farke’s side were forced to withdraw because of a Covid-19 outbreak at Carrow Road, could impact upon Slavisa Jokanovic’s starting eleven for the opening match of the new Championship season.
After they missed the end of last season due to injuries, United had hoped to use the match to ease Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie back into action ahead of next weekend’s meeting with Birmingham Ciy.
But with Norwich unable to fulfil their obligations and no suitable replacement able to be found, Jokanovic must now decide whether or not to risk asking Sharp and McBurnie to take part in a competitive game after nearly three months of virtual inactivity.
Although the pair have both taken part in training sessions at the Steelphalt Academy, they watched Wednesday’s win over Doncaster Rovers from the stands.
Jokanovic is likely to draw upon the expertise of Marco Cesarini and Rafa Cristobal, United’s heads of medical services and performance respectively, before making a call on the duo’s involvement.
Lys Mousset appears in pole position to spearhead United’s frontline against the visitors from the Midlands having scored three times in their only contests of a summer warm-up programme disrupted by the coronavirus.
David McGoldrick is also expected to feature after facing Rovers and Europa Point. But the third place in Jokanovic’s three-pronged attack is still up for grabs. Oliver Butke lined-up alongside Mousset and McGoldrick at the Keepmoat Stadium but was expected to begin the clash with Norwich on the bench.