Sheffield United: Why Conor Washington could prove to be set for a very big Christmas

Conor Washington has impressed Chris Wilder and his staff: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Conor Washington has impressed Chris Wilder and his staff: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Conor Washington has been told he could become one of the most important members of Sheffield United's squad as opponents search for ways to combat their tactical approach.

Oliver Norwood, the centre-forward's club and Northern Ireland team mate, believes Washington's presence has provided United with new strategic possibilities in the battle for Premier League football.

Oliver Norwood admits he wants to score more goals: James Wilson/Sportimage

Oliver Norwood admits he wants to score more goals: James Wilson/Sportimage

Despite still waiting for his first goal for United since leaving Queens Park Rangers in August, the 26-year-old's stock has risen in recent weeks after impressing Chris Wilder and his staff with performances during training.

Those displays prompted the manager to reward Washington with a rare start during last month's 3-2 victory over Brentford before he was introduced from the bench against Leeds.

"Conor offers something different to the other three lads up front," Norwood said. "He won't mind me saying this but he doesn't really want the ball to feet. He doesn't want to be coming short and having to link-up the play.

"What he wants is it being stretched, he wants the ball getting forward because he can turn people."

Conor Washington was signed from Queens Park Rangers: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Conor Washington was signed from Queens Park Rangers: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Washington's skill set could prove crucial over the coming weeks as United, who are sixth in the table, attempt to consolidate their grip on a play-off berth.

Marcelo Bielsa's description of Wilder's side as "serious" opposition following last weekend's Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane came after the Argentine had lauded United for their innovative style and system. Regarded as one of football's most cunning strategists, Bielsa's comments are likely to shine a light on Wilder's methods and prompt more of his counterparts to study them in depth.

If so, Norwood suspects both he and Washington could assume greater responsibility over the Christmas period.

"I need to add more goals to my game, definitely," Norwood said. "That's something I've definitely got to get better at because, the more threats you've got across the pitch, the harder it is for people to try and shut you down or come up with solutions."