The Sheffield United player who's almost irreplaceable - Alan Biggs' Blades Column

Some players are more replaceable than others. Some are virtually irreplaceable and the finest tribute to Chris Basham is to say that of him.

By Alan Biggs
Wednesday, 2nd March 2022, 11:45 am

I’d put Jack O’Connell, battling still to rescue his career after nearly 18 months out injured, in the same bracket.

Currently it explains why Basham’s absence, albeit for a ligament injury much less serious, is a potentially bigger blow to Sheffield United than had it been any other player.

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Chris Basham is currently out injured and is a huge miss for Sheffield United. Picture: David Klein / Sportimage

Not that this Blades bunch, summoning the spirit of recent promotions, can’t ride it in their strong pursuit of a play-off place.

But when it comes to replicating much of what went before, as Paul Heckingbottom has done quite brilliantly, there is no bigger challenge than bridging the gap to Basham’s return, hopefully well before the season’s end.

The only flaw in former manager Chris Wilder’s inspired innovation of overlapping centre backs was that the two he moulded into the role, Basham and O’Connell, became practically unique.

There is no database for defenders in that role, hence neither has been replaced, having mercifully stayed injury free for the double bounce from third tier to first.

Nor is it possible to provide like-for-like cover for them.

Over time Jack Robinson has adapted manfully to the O’Connell role on the left, balanced by Basham’s ongoing dual effectiveness on the other side of John Egan.

Take Basham out and you saw against Blackburn last midweek that Charlie Goode, on loan from Brentford, is only up to the defensive part of the job.

Can’t blame him for that, though his straight red card in the second half, the prelude to the Blades heroically winning with ten men, was indefensible. Then young Kyron Gordon had to step into the role in the narrow defeat at Millwall.

The whole point being that Basham, at 33 and after eight years United’s longest-serving player, will never get a greater accolade than when he is missing.

Also that Heckingbottom has to find a way forward - literally - without one of his main strategic drivers.

But, ahead of Friday’s big Bramall Lane game with play-off rivals Nottingham Forest, let’s take a timely moment to take our hats off to The Bash.