What Paul Heckingbottom said about John Lundstram's effort levels amid accusations from Blades fans

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, has mounted a defence of John Lundstram after the midfielder came in for criticism from supporters over recent weeks and months.

The 27-year-old is widely expected to leave at the end of the current season when his contract expires, with United destined to be relegated to the Championship and a number of Premier League clubs reportedly interested in signing him on a free transfer.

That fact, together with United’s poor results this season and Lundstram’s below-par performances of late, has led to accusations from sections of the United fanbase that the midfielder is not giving his all for the United cause.

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But speaking ahead of Sunday’s clash with Arsenal, which United go into bottom of the Premier League table and 15 points adrift of fourth-bottom Newcastle United, temporary boss Heckingbottom said: “I can understand the frustrations because of the season but in terms of effort and commitment, you only have to look at the physical data to see he is making the effort.

“Questioning quality is a different matter; I questioned that after the Leeds game.

“I’ve been in that position, leaving on a free as a 24-year-old, and it does bring attention but you have to deal with that, that’s just how it is.

John Lundstram of Sheffield United is tackled by Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“If we had everyone back fit and had more options, John would be fighting more for his place but we’re not seeing a lack of effort at all.

“You’re not going to get a player any more motivated than when he’s playing for his own future, which John is right now.”