Sheffield United star is grateful to have such selfless team mates
Max Lowe has thanked George Baldock and Enda Stevens for helping him grasp the complexities of Sheffield United’s pioneering system, as he prepares for an extended run in the starting eleven.
With Baldock suffering a hamstring injury during Tuesday night’s win over West Bromwich Albion and Stevens nursing a muscle problem, Lowe is expected to make his 10th appearance for Chris Wilder’s side when Chelsea visit Bramall Lane this weekend.
Signed from Derby County during the close season, the 23-year-old defender admitted understanding how wing-backs are required to operate within the manager’s preferred 3-5-2 formation was the hardest challenge he faced after leaving Pride Park five months ago.
Although it remains a work in progress, Lowe told The Star that Baldock and Stevens have accelerated the process by passing on their knowledge and experience during training sessions at the Steelphalt Academy.
“The hardest thing coming here was probably the formation and it’s still strange to think how much freedom I’ve got going forward,” Lowe said. “Enda and George have been brilliant though. They give me all the little details about the kind of runs I can make, and I couldn’t wish for two better people to learn from.”
Members of the squad which finished ninth in the Premier League last season after winning promotion from the Championship, Baldock and Stevens are both set to miss the meeting with Thomas Tuchel’s side due to fitness issues. Stevens aggravated a calf complaint last month while Baldock was substituted during the 2-1 victory over Sam Allardyce’s men. That result saw United, who remain bottom of the table, move to within a point of their 19th placed opponents with Wilder later insisting their battle for survival remains “alive” despite being a further 10 adrift of safety.
“The gaffer has given us all targets, as wing-backs, to create and score a few more goals,” Lowe, whose former team mate Jayden Bogle was on target against West Brom, continued. “I know now, from what George has been drilling into me, that when one wing-back gets forward I don’t just have to get to the back post, I can actually get into the box.
“I can learn from Enda and George because they have had, and are still having, fantastic careers.”
After largely steering clear of them last term, United have suffered a spate of injuries since returning to action in September. Describing the situation as “unprecedented” during a recent interview, Wilder believes that was a major factor behind United’s disappointing form until last month’s FA Cup win over Bristol Rovers proved the catalyst for a dramatic upturn in fortune. They enter Sunday’s meeting with Chelsea having won five of their last seven fixtures in all competitions; a run which includes victories over Newcastle and Manchester United.
Echoing his manager’s argument, Lowe also revealed United’s lengthy casualty list has caused a number of other problems too.
“It’s been tough because, when I came in earlier (this season), I wasn’t able to build up a relationship with my centre-half,” he admitted. “And those relationships are so important, especially when you play the way we do. But that’s where the help and advice of George and Enda has been invaluable and I can’t thank them enough for it.”