Sheffield United skipper Billy Sharp closes in on return

Billy Sharp is expected to be the first of Sheffield United’s injured centre-forwards to be declared fit, Slavisa Jokanovic has confirmed.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 7:23 am

Having missed the end of last season through injury, Sharp also sat out United’s opening friendly of the summer - against Europa Point of Gibraltar - earlier this month as he continued his recovery.

Oli McBurnie and Oliver Burke also were also absent from the team sheet as goals from John Egan, Lys Mousset and Tyler Smith saw United ease to a 3-0 win over Andy Pritchard’s side.

Although he appeared to suggest McBurnie and Burke are still some way off a return to action, Jokanovic indicated Sharp is making much quicker progress.

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Blades skipper Billy Sharp is a veteran of the pre-season campaigns

“They are working hard to get back and, the same as with everyone, I am pleased with their commitment,” the United manager said. “They (McBurnie and Burke) are out. Billy is closer and if things continue as they are, he will probably be the first (to feature).”

Jokanovic will enjoy another opportunity to assess the players he inherited after officially taking charge earlier this month on Wednesday 28 July, when United visit Doncaster Rovers for another warm-up fixture. They complete their preparations for next month’s Championship opener against Birmingham City by meeting Norwich City three days after the trip to the Keepmoat Stadium.

Jokanovic will be hopeful that Sharp can take some part in the game against Rovers, after conceding he is searching for ways to integrate as many of his strikers into the starting eleven as possible.

The Serb tweaked United’s formation during the run-out with EP in order to accommodate three rather than the usual two.