Sheffield United: Manchester City midfielder provides a much-needed ray of hope
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Signed on loan from Manchester City at the beginning of the campaign, the midfielder is expected to make only his fifth league start for Paul Heckingbottom’s side when Norwich City visit Bramall Lane on Saturday.
McAtee stepped-off the bench at the CBS Arena, when Wales defender Rhys Norrington-Davies’ left the pitch on a stretcher after suffering a hamstring injury which threatens to rule him out of next month’s World Cup in Qatar.
Aged 20, McAtee lit a fire under what was threatening to become a forgettable game when he thundered into a tackle on Fankaty Dabo in front of the technical area and Heckingbottom said: “After Macca’s tackle, I thought we got a lot stronger. I thought at one stage, and it was definitely looking like, it was our game to lose. So to lose it, to go down in the manner we did, was obviously very frustrating and disappointing.”
United struck the woodwork twice before Martyn Wagorn’s late penalty, conceded by Chris Basham, settled the contest in Coventry’s favour. With Norrington-Davies almost certain to miss the meeting with Dean Smith’s side, Ben Osborn’s services could again be required at wing-back which could see McAtee drafted back into Heckingbottom’s first choice eleven.
“Macca knows what he has to do and we know the qualities that he’s got,” he said. “We know he can open people up, with those passes of his and the ability he’s got.”
John Fleck, now fit again after recovering from a broken leg, provides Heckingbottom with another option as he contemplates the latest reshuffle of a squad which has been disrupted by injury. Sander Berge, Jayden Bogle, Max Lowe and Enda Stevens were among those to miss out in Warwickshire. Wes Foderingham will complete the second match of a three game ban when sixth placed Norwich make the journey north to face opponents who are fourth.
“There’s things we’ve got to improve on but we also know how tough this division is,” said Heckingbottom.