Sheffield United: Oli McBurnie, Enda Stevens and positive news on the injury front ahead of West Bromwich Albion clash

Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie is closing in on a return to fitness ahead of Thursday’s Carabao Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion.
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Although the first round tie will come too soon for the centre-forward, who has been absent since the end of last season with a foot injury, Paul Heckingbotton’s decision to involve him in today’s under-21’s clash with Reading marks an important step forward in his rehabilitation.

Defenders Chris Basham and Enda Stevens are also set to miss the visit to The Hawthorns, Heckingbottom’s assistant Stuart McCall has confirmed, even though a scan on the calf complaint the latter sustained during this month’s defeat by Watford revealed the damage is not as serious as first feared. Like Basham, Stevens sat out last weekend’s win over Millwall in the Championship.

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“There’s been a lot of positives this week,” McCall said. “Oli is starting for the under-21’s, but he won’t be ready for this one. Bash isn’t far away at all and he’s desperate to get back involved, to get back out there again.

“Enda’s scan came back much more positive than we were hoping. He’s going to be out but we’re looking, hopefully, at weeks rather than months. Sometimes they don’t show up too much or everything that you want to see. But the people who deal with these things were quite encouraged by what they were looking at.”

Tommy Doyle, signed on loan from Manchester City, has also been making progress in his battle for fitness after being diagnosed with a muscle injury during pre-season training. United’s captain Billy Sharp could make his first start of the new campaign after confirming he is now over the calf problem which was responsible for curtailing his involvement towards the end of last term.

Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnieSheffield United striker Oli McBurnie
Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie

“Enda, the physios don’t like us putting timescales on stuff because it puts pressure on them,” McCall added. “Oli, we’ll see how he comes through. He’s been working really hard and has looked in good nick. He’s had a lousy run of injuries and illness. Hopefully he can kick on now and show what everyone here knows that he can do.”