The department that Sheffield United don't have to worry about - Alan Biggs

Sounds strange to say Sheffield United’s most depleted department is maybe the one they least need to strengthen this summer.

By Alan Biggs
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 11:45 am

But it’s also logical. Because, fitness permitting, Paul Heckingbottom may already have enough firepower for another promotion attempt.

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What he doesn’t have, in my view, is enough ready-made competition and cover across midfield and defence.

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Iliman Ndiaye's emergence has been one of the highlights of Sheffield United's season. Alistair Langham / Sportimage

It’s still further forward, though, that the big focus lies. I don’t know whether you’d call Morgan Gibbs-White a number ten, a winger or a striker

What I do know is there have been times this season when the Wolves loanee has been all three - in the same game.

With a Gibbs-White return a virtual no-go, how do you replace such a brilliant and influential performer?

Certainly, it adds urgency to keeping Sander Berge barring an irresistible offer.

While manager Paul Heckingbottom understandably prefers to make permanent signings for unity, no-one has been a bigger team player or mixed more talent with tenacity than MGW.

What it does underline is that, creatively, United will need to find a similar spark from somewhere. Or a collective chemistry within a broadly 3-5-2 system that is still as fit for purpose as ever.

Not only does it suit players ingrained in it, those cogs are still turning. The older guard at the core of the squad have earned another run at it.

As for strikers, Heckingbottom remarkably coped with being left to select the only ones available during the run-in with Gibbs-White up alongside Iliman Ndiaye, and Daniel Jebbison on the bench.

This after Billy Sharp joined Rhian Brewster, Oli McBurnie and the newly released David McGoldrick (huge applause for his Blades career) on the sidelines.

Brewster was finally showing his mettle before he was injured. We can expect him to kick on next season and no guarantee needed from Billy as he provides his own.

With Ndiaye having come of age, Jebbison progressing, the much-criticised McBurnie offering a different dynamic and Will Osula coming through the ranks, that’s plenty.

There’s youth in there too, somewhat lacking from the rest of the side.

And extra zip is a fair summary of what United will need next season.