Sheffield United: Jamie’s true grit impresses Clough

Nigel Clough has challenged players to change his selection policy
Nigel Clough has challenged players to change his selection policy
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Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough admits he has “changed his mind” about Jamie Murphy after praising the former Scotland under-21 international’s strength of character, writes James Shield.

And Clough, speaking ahead of today’s League One fixture with Swindon Town, told those players on the periphery of his squad to follow Murphy’s lead if they want to thrust themselves back into the first team picture at Bramall Lane.

“There are two ways you can respond if you’re not involved,” Clough said. “You can sulk or you can work even harder and force your way back in.

“Jamie, to his credit, has done the latter. That’s why he’s getting his rewards.

“Jamie can be an out and out wide man for us on the left and he gives us something different in that regard. As everyone knows, he wasn’t involved much to begin with but he’s put himself right back in the frame because of the work ethic that he’s shown behind the scenes and during the games when he’s come on.”

Murphy furthered his claims for a first start since October by scoring the decisive goal during last weekend’s FA Cup success over Cambridge United. Jose Baxter was also on target as the visitors inflicted a rare home defeat on Richard Money’s side.

Clough added: “Jose and Jamie can play big parts for us this season. We always knew Jose has got the ability, he showed that with his goal down there which, technically, was superb.

“But he’s really buckled down too and that’s what you need in a relegation fight.

“Jamie has been very direct, running at defenders and giving them something to worry about which is good to see.

“We are still learning about the players and about the squad. Our opinions will change. People will change our minds.”

Tony McMahon and Aidy White, who both missed the second round tie at the Abbey Stadium are eligible for selection against seventh placed Swindon but Stephen McGinn (hamstring) is a major doubt.

United, who are 20th despite stretching their unbeaten run in all competitions to four games, will give the midfielder “every possible opportunity” to declare himself fit for this afternoon’s contest, Clough insisted during his pre-match media briefing.

Mark Cooper, his opposite number at the County Ground, expects to be without Nile Ranger after accusing the centre-forward of lacking professionalism.

Asked why Ranger missed their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Stevenage four days ago, Cooper replied: “Because he doesn’t behave like the rest of the players and until he does, and shows the rest of the players a bit more respect, he won’t feature.

“I’m not saying any more, but all I’m saying is he has to behave like the rest of the players to be considered for selection.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1