Preston North End vs Sheffield United: Brutally frank defender admits 'We look mentally fragile' after Deepdale collapse

Chris Basham has admitted Sheffield United must become less fragile after confessing that individual mistakes are having a debilitating effect upon the team as a whole.

Wednesday, 19th January 2022, 6:49 am

The defender was speaking after last night’s second-half collapse against 10 man Preston North End cost Paul Heckingbottom’s side two Championship points, leaving them nine behind sixth-placed Middlesbrough ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Luton Town.

United appeared to be cruising towards their fourth win in six outings since the 44-year-old’s appointment in November when Billy Sharp’s penalty, following Jayden Bogle’s opener, saw them establish at 2-0 lead at the break. But Preston, who saw Andrew Hughes sent-off for the foul which led to the spot-kick, staged a remarkable fight-back with Alan Browne and Emil Riis both on target during the closing stages.

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Acknowledging that the result could have been even worse for United if the hosts had levelled earlier, Basham said: “That’s what we’re disappointed about. We’re experienced lads. Yet one little mistake or bad pass, it seems to go through the team quite quickly. It’s been noticeable for a couple of weeks now.

“The manager will speak to us and we’ll look to put it right. We’ll do that on the training ground. The games are coming thick and fast now so we need to put things right. We need to be stronger together and communicate better together.”

“We’ll have discussions because it felt like a defeat,” he added. “We looked comfortable, played some great stuff. But that’s not the be all and end all because it’s a 90 minute game. If it had gone on for another 10, we might have lost.”

Despite Heckingbottom’s insistence that Robin Olsen’s loan from AS Roma could not be terminated until United had sourced a replacement, the Sweden goalkeeper was allowed to join Aston Villa before the trip to Deepdale, where Jake Eastwood again deputised for Wes Foderingham on the bench.

Sheffield United defender Chris Basham provided a brutally frank assessment of what went wrong at Preston North End: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Frank Fielding, currently on a short-term contract at Stoke City, is known to have been identified as a potential signing. Adam Davies, Fielding’s colleague in Staffordshire, is also known to be admired by Heckingbottom although he has featured 15 times for City this term.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom speaks to Billy Sharp during the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston: Nick Potts/PA Wire.