Sheffield United's schedule has a positive impact upon FA Cup selections

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With Sheffield United entering an international break following Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Blackburn Rovers, Paul Heckingbottom is not considering wholesale changes to his starting eleven for the meeting with Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side.

Despite outlining his respect for the competition on numerous occasions this term, Heckingbottom has nevertheless used it to hand game-time to many of those on the periphery of his plans with teenager Andre Brooks awarded a full senior debut during the fifth round meeting with Tottenham Hotspur.

After facing Rovers at Bramall Lane, United do not play again until April 1st’s visit to Norwich City, where they will attempt to take another step towards gaining automatic promotion from the Championship.

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That, Heckingbottom explained, will influence his selection policy for the clash against Rovers.

“Changes aren’t really on my mind because of the break coming up,” he said. “The time between this one and our last match, Wednesday to Sunday, is actually a luxury for us anyway because usually we’ve been going Wednesday to Saturday lunchtime lately.

“Obviously we’ve got a lot of lads going away with their countries and we won’t get them back until the Thursday before Norwich. We can unwind a bit but they can’t. No, though, the programme means I’m not really considering that.”

Sheffield United's Enda Stevens is back in training: Gary Oakley / SportimageSheffield United's Enda Stevens is back in training: Gary Oakley / Sportimage
Sheffield United's Enda Stevens is back in training: Gary Oakley / Sportimage

Confirming James McAtee is available for selection after suffering a bout of cramp during United’s win at Sunderland two days ago - “That’s all it was” - Heckingbottom revealed Daniel Jebbison was the only fresh casualty his squad sustained at the Stadium of Light. The centre-forward was the victim of a terrible challenge by Trai Hume, with one former Premier League referee claiming the Sunderland defender should have been dismissed rather than cautioned.

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Jebbison still has a chance of being passed fit to face Rovers but Heckingbottom acknowledged: “He didn’t train with us today. We’ll see how he is.”

Defender Enda Stevens, whose last appearance came during January’s third round victory over Millwall, did complete United’s penultimate session ahead of this weekend’s game but is unlikely to be considered for action.

“It was good to have Enda joining in again,” Heckingbottom said. “He was doing the full thing.”