Why Luke Freeman may have played himself into contention to start Sheffield United's clash with Luton this weekend

Luke Freeman has been placed on red alert to make a rare league start for Sheffield United this weekend after Slavisa Jokanović, the Blades boss, praised his performance in the EFL Cup victory over Derby County on Tuesday night.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 4:30 pm
Luke Freeman of Sheffield United shoots against Derby in the Carabao Cup: Alistair Langham / Sportimage

Freeman, who has so far struggled to nail down a consistent place in the Blades’ side since becoming their record signing at the time of his move two summers ago, scored the Blades’ equaliser against Derby before Billy Sharp came off the bench to book their place in the third round.

The former QPR man, who spent time on loan at Nottingham Forest last season in search of first-team football, looked desperate to impress throughout a rare outing ahead of this Saturday’s trip to Kenilworth Road to face Luton Town.

“We need to grow our confidence and be brave to play football,” said boss Jokanović.

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“It’s an important victory for us, we are happy to continue in this competition and improve our confidence to continue fighting in the Championship.

“Freeman is working well and scored his first goal for this club. He’s fighting for his position and it’s a successful night for him. We’ll continue working with him and assess him, when he’s best for us to use in different games.

“When you score a goal it’s a positive thing, we’re trying to find a position for him too. He played in one position for the first 45 minutes and more offensive in the second half. He was comfortable in both and one of the best players in the game.”

Freeman’s biggest rival for a starting place at United still seems to be John Fleck, the Scottish international who came off the bench at half-time against Derby and put in arguably his most impressive performance of the campaign to date amidst the Blades’ early-season struggles.

Fleck may also feel he has an extra point to prove on top of the competition from Freeman for his place, after he was left out of the Scotland squad for his country’s World Cup qualifiers next month along with Bramall Lane teammates Oli McBurnie and Oli Burke.