Sheffield United: Players praised for ignoring one of football's most selfish trends

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, has praised his players for refusing to follow one of football’s latest trends by volunteering for duty whilst undergoing treatment for injury.
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With many professional footballers, particularly those operating at Premier League level, now refusing to make themselves available unless they feel close to “100 percent”, many members of United’s squad have adopted a different approach in order to help steer the club through a selection crisis tracing back to the beginning of the campaign.

Sander Berge, Jayden Bogle, Ciaran Clark, Max Lowe, Enda Stevens, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Daniel Jebbison are all expected to miss Saturday’s visit to West Bromwich Albion because of fitness issues while goalkeeper Wes Foderingham is suspended.

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But Heckingbottom said: “We haven’t got any who need to feel perfect, who need to be at 100 percent, in order to play. There’s been quite a few playing with knocks or through little issues.

“Obviously we don’t take risks with their health. We’d never consider doing that. But if they can get through and they’re happy to do it, credit to them for doing that. It shows their commitment to the club and what we’re trying to do.”

Speaking earlier this month, Heckingbottom revealed that centre-forward Oli McBurnie will continue to be picked despite being booked in for surgery to repair a hernia. That is scheduled to take place during the World Cup break, which begins following United’s trip to Cardiff City on November 12. United will then return to action on December 10, with a home match against Huddersfield Town.

McBurnie scored his sixth goal of the campaign during last weekend’s draw with Norwich City, but is understood to have recently travelled to London for a series of pain-killing injections. That has prompted Heckingbottom to acknowledge that it is important Billy Sharp receives “minutes” on the pitch in order to ensure he remains in peak condition while Rhian Brewster, United’s record transfer signing, could also benefit from increased opportunities as a result.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom talks to Tommy Doyle and Oli McBurnie (right): Darren Staples / SportimageSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom talks to Tommy Doyle and Oli McBurnie (right): Darren Staples / Sportimage
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom talks to Tommy Doyle and Oli McBurnie (right): Darren Staples / Sportimage
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“The players have shown their commitment time and time again,” Heckingbottom said. “They want to do this for themselves, the fans and the club.”