Sheffield United: Decision reached on pre-season scheduling after international call-ups

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, is preparing to redraft his squad’s training schedule in order to ensure those members who have spent the past two weeks on international duty enjoy a rest before the start of the new Championship season.

Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 2:55 pm

The majority of United’s team are set to begin their preparations at the Randox Health Academy next week, undergoing a series of tests designed to gauge their fitness and conditioning levels before travelling to Portugal on July 3rd.

But the likes of Iliman Ndiaye, Sander Berge, George Baldock and Rhys Norrington-Davies are expected to be granted extra time off after being called up by their respective countries. John Egan, Adam Davies and Enda Stevens have also been encouraged to enjoy a short break with their families before resuming work at Shirecliffe.

All of those players in Nations League, African Cup of Nations and World Cup qualifying action are expected to be involved when Heckingbottom’s side stage a friendly against Primeira Liga opposition near Lisbon at the end of their warm weather camp.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

George Baldock of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

"We know what the picture looks like,” Heckingbottom said. “We have the (training) programme mapped out and we know exactly what we want from it.”

"There’s certain things everyone will go through,” he added, during an interview with journalists towards the end of last month. “But there are also individual situations that we will take into consideration too, because we want to make sure everyone if mentally and physically ready.”

Ndiaye has endured the most gruelling itinerary since United were beaten in the play-off semi-finals by Nottingham Forest, making his debut for Senegal during their win over Benin in Dakar before travelling to Rwanda for another AFCON qualifier.

Baldock also made his maiden international appearance, this time for Greece, when Gus Poyet’s men faced Northern Ireland. He started their wins over Kosovo and Cyprus before also taking part in their return fixture with Alain Giresse’s men.

liman Ndiaye (C) of Sheffield United: Darren Staples / Sportimage

Norrington-Davies and Davies helped Wales qualify for this winter’s World Cup finals in Qatar, beating Ukraine in a shoot-out. Berge has been representing Norway while Egan and Stevens were called-up by the Republic of Ireland.