Over 70 days after officially signing for Sheffield United, George Baldock finally made his competitive Blades debut in Tuesday’s Carabao Cup loss to Leicester City.
A 4-1 defeat against the Premier League side may have been an inauspicious start. But Baldock, like many other neutral observers, thought the scoreline was not a true reflection on the game. The contest itself just gave the 24-year-old a thirst for more.
“I have been itching to play and the coaching team had to tell me to calm down before the Leicester game,” said Baldock, who missed United’s first five games of the season with a foot injury.
“I was pacing up and down in the dressing room before the game, I couldn’t wait.
“I don’t know what I will be like when it’s a full house at Bramall Lane.
“I know Enda Stevens has touched on it before, this is a great place to play but teams aren’t going to enjoy coming here because of the atmosphere, and the way we are playing at the minute.”
Baldock’s enthusiasm about the Bramall Lane support isn’t simply PR or propaganda, either. It was a recurring theme of his first interview with this newspaper on the day he signed for United, with memories of United’s 7,000-strong following to Stadium:MK fresh in his mind.
His first taste of it in a red and white shirt was delayed by a small fracture in his foot, but after 68 minutes on his debut he is in contention to play a part in Saturday’s Championship clash at home to Derby County.
“When I first got told the news about the injury, it wasn’t best pleasing,” he admitted.
“But I am the type of character who just gets on with it. You can’t do anything about it and just have to make the most of a bad situation.
“It could have been worse. I am back now and felt better than I thought I would.
“I am disappointed with the result against Leicester; I didn’t think 4-1 was a true reflection of the game. But I ticked a box in terms of declaring myself fit, and my foot felt good. The aim was to play 60 minutes so to play 68 was pleasing for me.
“It is important we make this place a fortress in the league. Two wins, two clean sheets so far and there’s no reasons why we can’t go and beat Derby.
“It has been a good start for us, it will be a big crowd again and I am thoroughly looking forward to the game.”
With Leon Clarke suspended following his red card against Barnsley on Saturday, Wilder will have to reshuffle his forward options for Saturday’s visit of Gary Rowett’s Rams.
Caolan Lavery scored United’s consolation against Leicester with a late cross-cum-shot, but neither he or strike partner Ched Evans quite cemented their place alongside skipper Billy Sharp.
Another option for Wilder could be playing David Brooks just behind Sharp. The England U20 international was United’s man of the match against the Foxes and, Wilder admitted, is close to making his full Championship debut.