The Sheffield United defender who has stepped up to show a new side to his game

Moving forward, as people irritatingly like to say, maybe Sheffield United can find a way to do exactly that with a variation of their most renowned tactic.

By Alan Biggs
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 11:45 am

Sometimes there’s a moment in a match that you remember above a winning goal or a vital save.

My recurring flashback to last midweek and United’s win over Queens Park Rangers concerns a moment former Blades star Kevin Gage described as John Egan “morphing into Franco Baresi.”

It was midway in the second half and came to nothing but I wonder if something can be made of it.

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John Egan of Sheffield Utd with Lyndon Dykes of QPR during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane. Picture: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

To say it was a rare foray by the Blades’ kingpin defender is an understatement.

Virtually from the day he signed in a then club record £4m deal from Brentford in 2018, Egan has been United’s stay-at-home defender, flanked for much of that time by those famous overlapping centre backs.

Now, still without Jack O’Connell and latterly Chris Basham as well, the Blades simply couldn’t play that same way even if they tried.

Ben Davies on the left, for instance, is not that sort of player and neither, from early evidence on the right, is new recruit Filip Uremovic, albeit impressive.

Fair to say the team has struggled for goals without that special dynamic in their armoury.

But Egan last week offered just a glimpse of an effective surprise variation when the moment suits.

He picked it, gliding into midfield void with speed and grace, putting United back on the offensive and pushing QPR’s quest for an equaliser into momentary retreat.

Now I’m not suggesting Egan should start charging forward at every opportunity.

But he’s showed he’s more than just a very effective stopper, indeed a capable footballer with the ball at his feet, an ability he has reined in for the benefit of the team.

Certainly also there’s a handy surprise element in the middle man of a back three venturing forward.

Davies, for example, is more than capable - and suited - to holding the fort at the rear. As is Uremovic.

Basham is on the way back. But at a time when goals are in short supply maybe we’ll see a little more of Egan in the opposition’s half?