Sheffield United: Striker in need of "protection" can't be withdrawn from the frontline

Sheffield United were unable to “protect” Oli McBurnie ahead of next week’s visit to Bristol City because the hamstring injury Rhian Brewster sustained during their win over West Bromwich Albion forced them to make a series of impromptu changes, manager Paul Heckingbottom has admitted.
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Playing through the pain barrier after being diagnosed with a hernia, McBurnie was scheduled to be withdrawn during the closing stages of United’s meeting with Carlos Corberan’s side as their attention switched towards the match at Ashton Gate.

But with Brewster pulling-up soon after being introduced as a substitute, Heckingbottom revealed a plan to grant McBurnie a rest had to be quickly shelved, saying: “We were looking to get Reda (Khadra) on to be honest. We were looking to protect players with Tuesday in mind but, because a few things happened out there, we weren’t really able to do all of the things we wanted to do.”

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After seeing a similar issue force him to miss the second-half of last season, Brewster’s latest set-back threatens to increase McBurnie’s workload at precisely the time United are looking to coax him through another busy period of the Championship fixture programme before undergoing surgery during the World Cup break. Their preparations for the meeting with Nigel Pearson’s men have been further complicated by the fact Anel Ahmedhodzic will miss the game through suspension after collecting his fifth caution of the season at The Hawthorns, where Iliman Ndiaye opened the scoring.

Despite his fitness issue, McBurnie later scored his seventh goal of the campaign at Albion and Heckingbottom said: “We’ll do what we can.”