Sheffield United: Why Bramall Lane's coaching staff should be keeping a close eye on Bosnia tomorrow
Muhamed Bešić will hope to use Bosnia and Herzegovina's Euro 2020 qualifier against Italy to not only enhance his country's prospects of reaching next year's finals but also as a springboard into Sheffield United's starting eleven.
The midfielder has yet to start a Premier League game for Chris Wilder's side, after moving to Bramall Lane from Everton during the close season.
Although the form of Oliver Norwood and John Fleck has limited the 26-year-old's opportunities so far, United's coaching staff will be assessing his performance during tomorrow's match at the Bilino Polje Stadium, Zenica, as they prepare for one of the most demanding periods on the club's fixture schedule.
Having revealed the psychological and physical challenges top-flight football has placed upon his players, there is a suspicion Wilder could be forced to adopt a more flexible approach to his team selections as United approach the festive programme. They face Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle and Norwich City in the space of eight days at the beginning of next month.
The meeting with Roberto Mancini's side, who have already qualified for the tournament as Group J winners offers Besic a chance to prove a point to both Robert Prosinečki, the Bosnians' head coach, and Wilder.
Speaking before Prosinečki summoned Besic to the Balkans for a match he has described as a "major test", Wilder highlighted the roles Besic and Ben Osborn, another summer signing, have performed during United's climb to fifth in the table.
"We've got good players (in the starting eleven) performing well," he said. "But there are good players behind them performing well in training too; people like Mo and Ben. That means people need to stay on their toes. It keeps people sharp and you need that if you are going to drive forward together and achieve."
"If people aren't pushing, then you can lose a little bit of that edge you want," Wilder added. "Not intentionally, because the attitude of the lads is great. But you always want that competition and to have something to think about."
Besic, whose country are guaranteed at least a play-off place after topping their UEFA Nations League group, is scheduled to spend the rest of the campaign in South Yorkshire before his future at Goodison Park is reviewed.
Although his loan spell has not yet proved as productive as he might have envisaged, the German-born player's versatility means he could prove crucial as Christmas approaches; when injuries and suspensions usually begin to bite. Like Osborn and Luke Freeman, who can operate as wing-backs, Besic is capable of being deployed in either a defensive or an attacking role; something Wilder referenced when his loan was processed.
"Mo is a proper player," he said. "He has great pedigree which includes playing internationally and playing in the Premier League. He is an excellent all-round central midfielder. He is someone who can do everything we want a midfielder to do. Mo has played as a defensive midfielder for his country but he can also play further forward."
Travis Binnion, United's former academy manager, has reportedly been invited to become the new lead coach of Manchester United's under-14 to under-16 age groups.
Binnion, who left Shirecliffe earlier this year, previously worked with Nick Cox, Old Trafford's academy chief, in South Yorkshire.