Sheffield United: Striker who was vomiting before the win over QPR is praised by the boss for showing real character

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, praised Oli McBurnie and Filip Uremovic for the character they demonstrated during tonight’s win over Queens Park Rangers.

Tuesday, 5th April 2022, 11:00 pm

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Speaking after a first-half goal from Oliver Norwood lifted his team to fifth in the Championship table, Heckingbottom revealed McBurnie had been taken ill on the morning of the game but still volunteered to start.

Making his first appearance since arriving from Rubin Kazan, Uremovic was also commended by the 44-year-old for having “quickly adapted” to the demands of English football.

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“Oli was throwing up all morning with a stomach bug,” Heckingbottom told The Star. “He was able to keep some food down just before kick-off and he’d made it clear that if he was fit, he wanted to be involved.

“I want everyone to know that, because I want people to realise just how much Oli is putting in. I want them to know how much he’s prepared to give (to United) because he’s really bought in to what we are trying to do.”

Acknowledging McBurnie has been the target of some criticism in recent weeks, Heckingbottom, who was again without his injured captain Billy Sharp, added: “I thought he was excellent leading the line.

“He’s a good player and he’s a committed one as well. He’s had some really bad luck of late and he’s had to be patient. But it tells you something about the type of person he is that he made it very clear - he was adamant in fact - that he was going to be out there, even though he wasn’t well. That speaks volumes.”

Oliver Norwood wheels away in celebration, followed by debutant Filip Uremovic, after scoring for Sheffield United against Queens Park Rangers: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Although United failed to extend their lead following Norwood’s early strike, Heckingbottom described the result as “deserved” with Morgan Gibbs-White twice going close after the break.

Uremovic also impressed as Rangers were kept at arm's length for the majority of the contest, although Rob Dickie glanced a header wide during the closing stages. The defender could make his second start in a United jersey against AFC Bournemouth this weekend, after Heckingbottom insisted he was substituted midway through the second period because of cramp rather than anything more serious.

“I watched him on video the other day, playing against lads like Kylian Mbappe who you are never going to see in this division,” Heckingbottom said. “So you know he knows the game.

“What he didn’t have is experience of the Championship. So he’s had to make the odd little adjustment. I’ve got no reservations about him as a footballer.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom and Oli McBurnie during the meeting with Queens Park Rangers: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

“The Russian Premier League, where he's been captain of a really good club, it’s a little bit slower than here,” Heckingbottom added. “There’s a lot more emphasis on keeping possession there and that means, very often, your first pass is a backwards pass.

“If you do that here, then you’ve got someone jumping on you straight away. You have people all over you. So Filip had to make a few little adjustments. But, because of his quality, he did that.

“Despite all of the experience he’s got, that was still a big deal for him - being out there in front of nearly 27,000 people and knowing that people watch this league, because it’s one of the biggest, all over the world.”

Croatia's Filip Uremovic made his Sheffield United debut against Queens Park Rangers: Andrew Yates / Sportimage