Sheffield United reveal why Anel Ahmedhodzic and Chris Basham missed win over Cardiff City

Sheffield United only discovered that Anel Ahmedhodzic and Chris Basham would be unable to face Cardiff City a matter of hours before kick-off, manager Paul Heckingbottom said, after watching his team take another huge step towards sealing automatic promotion from the Championship.
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Ahmedhodzic, who had been set to start the match, was granted leave of absence when his wife went into labour overnight. After taking the decision to excuse the Bosnia and Herzegovina international from duty, United’s coaching staff were then informed that an injury would prevent Basham from deputising for his team mate at the heart of their defence.

“I’ve got better at ignoring my phone,” Heckingbottom said, describing the moment when he realised neither would be available. “With Anel, I woke up with loads of missed calls and text messages from him saying he had been with her in hospital all the way through the night.

Anel Ahmedhodžić of Sheffield United: Ashley Allen/Getty ImagesAnel Ahmedhodžić of Sheffield United: Ashley Allen/Getty Images
Anel Ahmedhodžić of Sheffield United: Ashley Allen/Getty Images
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“I was just going to ring him when I got another one saying that Bash’s back had gone into spasm,” he added. “That came through right after.”

Forced to scrap a large part of the plan they had devised for the meeting with Cardiff, United named three wing-backs - George Baldock, Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe - in their rearguard. Although the late change inevitably caused a few nervous moments, most noticeably during a first-half which saw the visitors take the lead from the penalty spot before James McAtee equalised, United’s lines of communication at the back, where goalkeeper Adam Davies was also featuring in place of the suspended Wes Foderingham, improved as the afternoon wore on. Further efforts from Jack Robinson, Iliman Ndiaye and substitute Ciaran Clark saw Heckingbottom’s second placed team eventually make the game safe.

Barring any complications, Ahmedhodzic should return to action when Bristol City travel to South Yorkshire on Tuesday. But United’s medical staff will monitor Basham ahead of that match, with Heckingbottom conceding: “Knowing Bash’s character, when he told us he was struggling we knew it must be bad because otherwise he’d have patched himself up to get out there. That’s what he’s like, so we knew he must have really been struggling.”