Sheffield United: Fight for Blades starting places is under way

Chris Wilder
Chris Wilder
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Chris Wilder admitted the scramble for a place in his starting 11 against Brentford next month has already begun following Saturday’s emphatic victory over Stocksbridge Park Steels.

Sheffield United began their preparations for August 5’s Championship curtainraiser with a 9-0 win at the Look Local Stadium.

Speaking afterwards, boss Wilder, who included new signings George Baldock, Nathan Thomas, Richard Stearman and Enda Stevens in the visitors’ matchday squad, said: “We are a team. We are a group. But pre-season is a little bit of an individual sport. Can you get in there for the first game of the season? The new lads will be trying to impress and so will the ones who have been here a while too.”

United travel to Spain on Monday afternoon ahead of Friday’s friendly against Malaga. The Spaniards, who finished 11th in La Liga last term, will pose a much stiffer test than Chris Hilton’s side although Wilder praised the non-league club’s application.

“We’ve not done a lot of work with the new lads in terms of shape,” he said. “It’s been more physical stuff, from Monday to Friday, getting them to a good standard from a fitness point of view.

“I thought they grabbed the shape really quickly, though. Nathan and George, first half, did that and so did Stears and Enda in the second; he got to the back stick and claimed a goal. It’s the same situation - it’s always good to get off to a positive start.”

“The atmosphere in the dressing room was very good; be it the first team or the one that came on in the second half,” Wilder, who made 11 changes at the interval, added. “They went at it full tilt. We spoke about it - not changing the rules, giving everything, being positive and doing what it takes to win games.

“Sometimes these games can fizzle out. But we wanted to be positive and keep it going. We did that.

“I always think this is a good game played in the right spirit. They put up a stiff fight.”

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