Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, has revealed he ordered Billy Sharp to miss the South Yorkshire derby against Doncaster Rovers despite admitting the centre-forward was ready to risk injury in order to take part.
But Adkins, who could recall his leading goalscorer for tomorrow’s meeting with Bury, insisted the decision had been vindicated by the performances of Che Adams and Dominic Calvert-Lewin at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Adams scored the only goal of the game as United climbed to eighth in the table while academy graduate Calvert-Lewin made his first senior start for the League One club.
Adkins told The Star: “I made a big call to leave Billy out of the team. He’s been great for us and I pick him all the time - everyone knows how highly I rate him. But he has been playing for the last six weeks with an injury, which has been well documented.
“He pulled out of training on Tuesday feeling his hamstring, maybe looking after the injury he’s had with his foot. Sometimes, the stresses and strains catch up on your body. He was desperate to play, but sometimes I have got to make the call for the better judgement of everything. If I had asked to play, he would have done. “But for me, Billy is very important to us. We have a third of the season to go and we made a call as the last thing we want to do is lose Billy Sharp.”
Calvert-Lewin, aged 18, impressed Adkins during United’s preparations for the new season before furthering his education on loan at Northampton Town.
“Dom scored an unbelievable goal in training the other day,” Adkins said. “You look at him, in pre-season he was brilliant and we were really enthused about him. But we had too many players so we allowed him to go out and and get some experience.
“He’s bided his time but you can see the athleticism, acceleration and ability to go and score goals and his enthusiasm is top-drawer. The pathway for the youngsters to come through the academy is there.”