Sheffield United: Fears The Blades have been left under-cooked by Covid-19 disruption

The scale of the disruption Covid-19 has caused to Sheffield United’s pre-season preparations was laid bare last night when it emerged their match against Norwich City wasn’t the only fixture the Championship club have been forced to shelve because of the coronavirus.

Saturday, 31st July 2021, 2:00 pm

The Star understands Slavisa Jokanovic’s side were also planning to stage at least two behind closed doors ‘bounce’ games at their Steelphalt Academy training complex before facing Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium three days ago.

That contest was supposed to be United’s penultimate outing before they return to competitive action with a home match against Birmingham City. But the 4-0 win over their neighbours from South Yorkshire turned-out to be Jokanovic’s final opportunity to watch his team in action when Daniel Farke’s side were forced to abandon their trip north after several players tested positive for the respiratory disease.

With United unable to source alternative opposition, United will now enter the meeting with Birmingham having taken part in only 180 minutes of football since being relegated from the Premier League last term. They beat Europa Point of Gibraltar soon after Jokanovic officially took charge on July 1st.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Although the loss of the clash with Norwich is not too damaging in itself, the effect it could have on United’s fitness levels has been accentuated by the fact it is actually the third game - not the first - wiped from their warm-up schedule.

Despite not being publicly announced, United had also arranged to host two EFL clubs at the Steelphalt Academy soon after completing a warm weather training camp in Spain.

But those were also wiped from the schedule when it emerged two members of Jokanovic’s squad had tested positive for Covid-19.

Initially, United were supposed to face Braga in Portugal rather than EP. But government travel restrictions forced a last minute change of both plan and destination.

Slavisa Jokanovic and his Sheffield United squad

Although Jokanovic appears set to change the tactics and formation employed by his predecessor Chris Wilder, United have scored seven goals and conceded none since his arrival in England. Lys Mousset has been responsible for three of those efforts, with two coming against Rovers.