United’s squad this season is overall much stronger than it was last season, but last week’s match at Forest proved there are some players we cannot do without, such are their value to the team and especially to the way United play.
Jack O’Connell is certainly one of them.
Fortunately the seemingly indestructible O’Connell has never been missing through injury or suspension since United got promoted.
We need it to stay that way, at least until somebody else (Kean Bryan, perhaps?) can prove that he is capable of stepping in.
Another is John Fleck. One of his most advantageous qualities is that he is left footed.
But it’s the way Fleck bursts from midfield and surges past defenders when he doesn’t possess outstanding pace or foot-skills that is most impressive. There’s nobody else in the squad who can play this way.
The other two were sorely missed at Forest.
After the Wigan game Chris Wilder said that he makes playing the ‘No.10’ role “easy”.
The best we have apart from Duffy in this role appears to be David McGoldrick, going by his brief appearances there against Wigan and Forest.
But it still wasn’t the same without Duffy, who has the ability to drift left and right and find space on a crowded pitch.
Then there’s Bashambauer. Martin Cranie did OK at Forest but United lacked Bash’s marauding runs inside and outside Kieron Freeman.
We speculated on the way down that Freeman might be the one to replace him, with George Baldock at wing-back, but reasoned that with it being an away game against a good team the more defensively minded Cranie would play.
We need Bash back against Wednesday.