The two "game changers" Sheffield United are preparing to unleash on the Premier League
John Fleck and Lys Mousset have been told they can be “game changers” for Sheffield United in the Premier League this season, although manager Chris Wilder has warned it would be a mistake to rush the pair back from injury.
United enter tomorrow’s game against Chelsea without a win since returning to action in September, having lost six and drawn one of their seven outings so far.
Although Wilder has attributed his team’s troubles to a combination of factors, including a hastily arranged preparation programme and the continued absence of crowds, he cited the loss of key players at various stages of the campaign as being the most damaging during a teleconference call with journalists earlier this week.
Fleck, one of United’s most influential performers when they finished ninth in the table last term, will miss his fourth straight match when Wilder’s squad travels to London as he continues his recovery from a back problem sustained on international duty with Scotland. Mousset is also set to sit-out the visit to Stamford Bridge after being forced to undergo foot surgery over the summer.
United released video footage of the duo taking part in non-contact training sessions before departing for the capital. But while Wilder admitted that being able to call upon players of their calibre would be a major boost for his side, recent results have presented him with an awkward dilemma - does he take a gamble by pitching them into action when West Ham travel to South Yorkshire later this month or, given their potential impact, risk waiting until November 28th’s meeting with fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion before considering them for selection? The answers appears to be the latter, although the outcome of this weekend’s fixture could influence Wilder’s decision.
“Lys is a game changer and John is a game changer,” he said. “I’ll be delighted when they are back, absolutely delighted.
“I’d have liked for them to be involved (at Chelsea). We have times when they are coming back, or are likely to be ready. I’m forever asking the medical department ‘When are they back? When are they back?’ They’re probably sick of me getting on to them.
“What we can’t do, though, is chuck them in if they’re going to break down again and then lose them for even longer.”
Wilder elected not to divulge details of the timescale those overseeing the duo’s rehabilitation have set for their recoveries, although he did hint both are progressing ahead of schedule. United feared it would be Christmas until either was available for selection.
“These two, they’re coming through well on every single aspect,” Wilder, who is also without Jack O’Connell (knee), said. “They’re moving in the right direction, definitely.
"It will be good to have them back, and they’re definitely coming along well. We’re doing everything the right way with them, as you would expect and as we always do, because we don’t want them to suffer any set backs. They’re both working really hard and putting everything in.”