This is why Kean Bryan was handed his big Premier League chance for Sheffield United
Kean Bryan had earned the opportunity to stake a claim for a run in Sheffield United’s first team, Chris Wilder insisted, after explaining why the former England youth international made his Premier League debut against West Bromwich Albion.
With O’Connell expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery earlier this term, Wilder conceded his lack of cover at left centre-half is a major cause for concern after watching Conor Gallagher’s first-half goal condemn United to their ninth defeat in 10 matches this term.
Outlining the thinking behind Bryan’s involvement, Wilder told The Star: “He’s a young player, he’s had a stop start career with us and has picked up some injuries and been away on loan. But since coming back, Kean has been with the first team squad and he’s been working really hard, as always.
“Ethan would have played but he was obviously out and I thought Kean was the best option, so that was down to me.
“He’s been really good in training, he deserved his chance and that’s been a real problem position for us with four of five different people going in there. Kean has done enough to start and I thought he did well, he did everything we could have asked of him and been expected of him.”
Bryan, aged 24, had made only four senior appearances for United since arriving from Manchester City two years ago before being thrust into the spotlight against West Brom. With all of those coming in cup competitions, he joined Bolton Wanderers on loan during the second half of last season.
“Jack has been a shoe-in in that position for ages, until what happened happened,” Wilder said, referring to O’Connell. “So that means it’s been difficult for others to get in, because we all know how good he’s been.”
“Bringing him in, and Jack Robinson, those were selection decisions by me,” Wilder added. “Ethan failed a fitness test towards the end of out week of training before the game and we knew he wasn’t available.
"Kean has shown the right attitude all the way through, as he’s tried to push his way in and he deserved his chance.”