Sheffield United: The reason why Iliman Ndiaye didn't feature on the team sheet at Cardiff City

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, explained Iliman Ndiaye was omitted from the squad which beat Cardiff City yesterday for “tactical” rather than fitness reasons.

Sunday, 5th December 2021, 3:00 pm

After players from Bramall Lane’s youth and development programme were placed at the heart of the new strategic vision which, according to members of the club’s hierarchy prompted Heckingbottom’s appointment, the decision to leave Ndiaye in South Yorkshire underlined his message that “results this season” remain the biggest priority.

Having warned about the aerial threat City posed before travelling to the Welsh capital, Heckingbottom and his coaching staff selected Oli McBurnie and Lys Mousset ahead of the 21-year-old Frenchman - calculating their greater physicality could prove crucial.

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“Iliman, it was tactical,” Heckingbottom told The Star. “Mouss and Oli, it was about their size and stature really. We thought that would come in handy because of City’s strengths. They are both six-footers and because we know City are strong and like to try and make the most of their advantages, that seemed like a more sensible way to go. Iliman isn’t injured, no. It was just one of those things and he'll be back."

Despite falling behind when Mark Harris opened the scoring, United finished the contest 10th in the Championship table when Morgan Gibbs-White, Billy Sharp and David McGoldrick all hit the target following Sean Morrison’s sending-off early in the second period. The City captain was dismissed for bringing down fellow skipper Sharp just outside the penalty box, with Heckingbottom’s side taking full advantage before Mark McGuiness reduced the deficit late on.

Iliman Ndiaye missed Sheffield United's win over Cardiff City in Wales: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Oli McBurnie of Sheffield United and Curtis Nelson of Cardiff City during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff. Picture credit should read: Ashley Crowden / Sportimage