Sheffield United have become a more dangerous team following David Brooks’ return to action, manager Chris Wilder insisted last night, after the Wales international made his long-awaited comeback during their FA Cup tie against Leicester City.
Brooks played his first game since being diagnosed with glandular fever in December during the fifth round match against Claude Puyel’s side.
Despite being narrowly beaten - Jamie Vardy scoring the only goal of the game midway through the second-half - Wilder acknowledged Brooks’ performance from the bench bodes well for the future.
United, who are eighth in the Championship table with 15 games remaining, resume their push for promotion when Queens Park Rangers visit Bramall Lane on Tuesday and Wilder, describing his team as “dark horses” said: “David makes us an even stronger team. He makes what I think is an already dangerous team even more dangerous. To get him back now, especially given what we know he can do, is like a new January signing for us.”
Brooks entered the fray at the beginning of the second-period when James Wilson was withdrawn as a precautionary measure. Although Wilder was impressed by the industry and invention of the youngster’s play - “Brooksy, I thought, looked really fresh” - he cautioned against expecting “too much too soon” given the nature of his illness.”
“Lots of people will look at him running forward, going downhill as it were, but we also look at him going uphill the other way,” Wilder continued. “We’ve still got to be careful with him and he’s nowhere near ready to start. But we’re delighted to have him back; particularly when there are enough games left for him to do some real damage.”
United exited the competition at the fifth round stage when Vardy converted Riyad Mahrez’s cross in the 66th minute. George Baldock thought he had drawn them level soon after but Kasper Schmeichel turned his shot around the post.
With City manager Claude Puyel acknowledging City had been forced to produce “a good performance against a good team,” Wilder added: “It’s all I can ask from the players, but it was a fantastic finish from Vardy. The team they picked was a powerful one. We gave a good account of ourselves, but we are disappointed. To not be overrun here gives us great heart, and we need a great run in the league, which has to be our priority. All I ask is we always leave everything out there on the pitch, and we need to push on now.”