Sheffield United: Is Billy Sharp still the 'logical choice' to lead the attack?
Billy Sharp’s performances this season have made him the “logical choice” to spearhead Sheffield United’s attack, manager Slavisa Jokanovic has confessed, despite telling the captain he can not take his place in their starting eleven for granted.
Together with Morgan Gibbs-White, who has scored three goals in six appearances since arriving from Wolverhampton Wanderers on loan, Sharp has become one of the first names on Jokanovic’s team sheet in recent weeks.
As well as netting on four occasions since August’s return to action, Sharp has also claimed three Championship assists.
Jokanovic, who started work at Bramall Lane in July, said: “You know Bill better than me. His numbers are really impressive and I know he shows personality. He shows me he is a good player. He shows me that he wants to play and be important for the team. So that makes him a logical choice. But his attitude encourages other people to push too, and fight for a place.”
United will be hoping to arrest a run of two straight defeats when they face Stoke City at Bramall Lane this weekend. Although their form had improved significantly before the international break, they entered it on the back of a controversial loss to AFC Bournemouth having also been beaten at Middlesbrough four days earlier.
Although he rates Sharp highly, Jokanovic did withdraw the 35-year-old towards the end of United’s match on the south coast as, with his side chasing an equaliser, he introduced Lys Mousset following his recovery from injury.
Reserving the right to make changes should he see fit, Jokanovic said: “We have Billy, the captain, we have Oli (McBurnie), Lys and others like Rhi (Rhian Brewster) and Oliver (Burke) here too. They have different qualities, different attributes, and different ways of playing so we can make alterations if that is the best thing to do for the team in a certain situation.”
"They must all be pushing,” he added. “Billy has been starting but the others must show that they can take his shirt, as he must show he should keep it. But sometimes, you do things for other reasons than just that.”