Sheffield United devise a radical new plan to get striker back firing on all cylinders ahead of their derby against Leeds

Lys Mousset has embarked upon a tailor-made fitness programme designed to unlock his potential, Paul Heckingbottom has revealed, as Sheffield United’s caretaker manager attempts to ensure the centre-forward is firing on all cylinders when Chris Wilder’s permanent successor is unveiled.

Friday, 2nd April 2021, 6:00 am

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Leeds, Heckingbottom told The Star that getting to the bottom of Mousset’s long-standing issues is one of his top priorities between now and the end of the season.

Possessing all the qualities required to become a successful Premier League marksman, Mousset’s poor conditioning has been a source of constant frustration for United’s coaching staff since his £10m transfer from AFC Bournemouth two years ago.

With a series of issues away from the football pitch also raising question marks about the Frenchman’s professionalism, Heckingbottom has ordered a radical overhaul of Mousset’s training regime.

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Lys Mousset (R) of Sheffield United celebrates with scorer Iliman Ndiaye during their win over Sheffield Wednesday's under-23's team: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“As soon as I came in, we saw that we needed to get Lys fitter,” Heckingbottom, who was placed in temporary charge following Wilder’s departure three weeks ago, said. “He’s embraced it. He’s jumped on it really well. We’re trying to give him a lot more football related fitness work, to try and build him up that way.”

Aged 25, Mousset scored five times during a blistering 10 game spell last season, prompting suggestions that United had found the solution to their problems in front of goal. However, those hopes proved unfounded with the former Le Havre striker travelling to West Yorkshire having found the back of the net only once in 16 months.

After featuring for United’s under-23’s side during the international break, Mousset and his compatriot Iliman Ndiaye both hope to be given opportunities to impress during the meeting with Marcelo Bielsa’s side. Heckingbottom, who spent four months at Elland Road before being replaced by the Argentine, handed Ndiaye his top-flight debut last month and confirmed he is ready to call upon the services of United’s younger players between now and the end of the season which appears destined to end in relegation. After losing all but six of their outings this term, United are 14 points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table with only nine matches of the season remaining.

“There’s been a few involved and I’ve got no issues with there being others, so long as they show it’s warranted, which it has been,” Heckingbottom said. “They’ve embraced what we’re trying to do and we want to select teams on energy, form and merit.”

Paul Heckingbottom: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Having previously served as United’s development coach, Heckingbottom is scheduled to stay at the helm until May, by which time Bramall Lane’s board of directors are expected to have identified Wilder’s replacement.

Reports in Scotland have suggested that Eddie Howe has rejected an approach from United in order to focus on trying to become Celtic’s next manager. Representatives acting on behalf of United owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud are also known to have been pursuing at least one strong line of enquiry in Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League, while Slavisa Jokanovic would accept an invitation to discuss the vacancy created by Wilder’s departure if he receives an offer.

Lys Mousset (R) is on a specialist fitness programme: Simon Bellis/Sportimage