Sheffield United: This is the team to beat Coventry City

Football is a game of opinions. Ask ten Sheffield United supporters to name their preferred starting eleven for this afternoon’s visit to Coventry City and you’ll probably get seven or eight different teams.

Saturday, 12th March 2022, 9:00 am

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But with Paul Heckingbottom’s squad continuing to collect injuries like Stanley Gibbons did stamps, fantasy football, Bramall Lane style, is threatening to become a pretty mundane experience. Soon, with John Fleck joining Rhian Brewster, Jayden Bogle, Enda Stevens and Lord knows who else on United’s list of walking wounded, tactics will play no part whatsoever in the selection process. It will simply be a case of ‘If you’re fit, you play.’

Thankfully, for the time being at least, there’s still a tiny little bit of slack on the roster. So, maybe for the final time this season - (we’re joking, well, we hope we’re joking) - The Star’s James Shield picks his line-up to beat Mark Robins’ side. And explains the thinking behind his decisions.

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James’ Starting Eleven: Foderingham, Norrington-Davies, Osborn, B Davies, Egan, J Robinson, Norwood, Hourihane, Berge, Gibbs-White, Sharp.

James’ Substitutes: A Davies, McBurnie, Jebbison, Ndiaye, Gordon, Seriki, Starbuck.

James’ Thoughts: United travel to the Ricoh - sorry, the Coventry Building Society - Arena on the back of a superb win over Middlesbrough. Chris Wilder’s Middlesbrough, in case anyone needed reminding.

Heckingbottom likes to rotate his options and, although I don’t always agree with the reasoning managers give when they do this, it’s easy to understand the reasons why.

Billy Sharp should start for Sheffield United. He scores goals: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

United invested a lot into their performance on Tuesday. Physically and especially, given the drama and narrative surrounding the game, emotionally.

With the players showing signs of mental fatigue during their draw with Nottingham Forest four days earlier and also during a subdued performance at Millwall, I can appreciate why United might be tempted to make changes here. But they shouldn’t.

This appears to be the strongest line-up available to United right now. So, with the race for the play-offs delicately poised, they should go with it and then worry about next week’s meetings with Blackpool and Barnsley later. If they pick up more knocks then, unfortunately, so be it. That’s football. Worry about those later.

The Star's Sheffield United writer James Shield
Sheffield United were superb against Middlesbrough in midweek: Isaac Parkin / Sportimage
Paul Heckingbottom takes his team to Coventry City: Simon Bellis/Sportimage