Sheffield United provide clarification on Jack O'Connell's situation

The reason behind Jack O’Connell’s absence from Sheffield United’s pre-season friendly programme has been confirmed by manager Chris Wilder.
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O’Connell failed to appear in any of the Premier League club’s four warm-up games, missing games against Dundee United, Heart of Midlothian and Derby County altogether before watching yesterday’s meeting with Preston North End from the stands.

Speaking after the 2-2 draw, Wilder told The Star he expected the defender to play a full part in training ahead of Wolves’ visit to Bramall Lane on September 14th - and be ready to face Nuno Espirito Santo’s side - because he had been self isolating after missing a Covid-19 test rather than recovering from injury. Although Wilder did not elaborate on the reasons why, O’Connell’s partner Alex Greenwood plays for Olympique Lyonnais in France; a country no longer on the UK’s travel corridor list. Neither is Spain, where OL spent 10 days before beating Wolfsburg in the final of the UEFA Women’s Champions League at the end of last month. However, it remains unclear if O’Connell was required to place himself in quarantine because he had travelled to visit her or been in close proximity with someone found to have contracted the virus elsewhere.

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“Jack’s had to isolate himself,” Wilder said. “He’ll train this week and, unless something happens, he’ll be ready (for Wolves).”

O’Connell’s availability for the start of the campaign will be a major plus for Wilder, who hopes to welcome at least two new faces to Bramall Lane at the beginning of next week. When a fitness issue prevented the centre-half from playing at the beginning of ‘Project Restart’ last term, United suffered a slump in both form and results, underlining his influence both on and off the pitch despite Jack Robinson impressing in the Liverpudlian’s absence.

United, who eventually finished in ninth, could be set for another boost ahead of Wolves’ visit, with the Czech Republic’s FA insisting their Nations League match against Scotland on Monday has been called-off because of a coronavirus outbreak within Jaroslav Silhavy’s squad. If the decision is ratified by UEFA, it will enable Fleck to return to South Yorkshire over the weekend, rather than arrive on Wednesday as initially planned.

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