Sheffield United manager in awe of his squad's focus in troubling times

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has backed his players to ensure the disruption the coronavirus outbreak is causing to their season does not derail the club’s challenge for European football when competition eventually resumes.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 6:01 am

United had climbed to seventh in the Premier League table and reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup before all matches were postponed until further notice to try and limit the spread of the disease.

Although it remains unclear when the situation will change - PL members are set to hold a teleconference tomorrow to begin plotting their response - Wilder’s comments about the character of United’s squad confirm he does not fear a loss of focus.

“They’ve shown how they go about their business,” he said. “They’ve shown all the way through so far what they’re made of and that won't change."

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Sheffield United had forced themselves into European contention before competition was halted due to the coronavirus outbreak: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

After taking the decision to shut the Steelphalt Academy until at least the end of the month, United have devised a series of individually tailored fitness programmes for those under Wilder’s command. Offices at Bramall Lane have also been closed, while personal appearances and other “non-essential business” will not take place for the foreseeable future.

United had been scheduled to face Newcastle, knowing that a win would have moved them to within two points of the Champions League places, before the shutdown was announced.

Arsenal, whose head coach Mikel Arteta tested positive for Covid-19 last week, were set to visit South Yorkshire on Sunday in the last eight of the knockout tournament.