Sheffield United have a serious problem that needs addressing on the left side of defence.
It’s one which has been primarily caused by a season-ending injury to Jack O’Connell, but has been made worse by poor form.
Despite being linked with several defenders, no new signing was made before the transfer window closed to replace O’Connell.
The Blades plan to review this in January, but until then manager Chris Wilder has to work with what he’s got.
This has already seen Jack Robinson and more recently Enda Stevens play on the left side of a back three. Stevens, Max Lowe and Ben Osborn have all been used at wing-back.
Yet nothing has really clicked. This was in stark evidence during the 4-1 defeat to Chelsea at the weekend.
Not many players did themselves justice at Stamford Bridge, but Stevens in central defence and Lowe at wing-back were particularly poor.
This inefficiency down the left hinders United in both defence and attack. On the right, George Baldock and Chris Basham looked far brighter.
With no O’Connell, Wilder needs to find a solution.
How to fix the Sheffield United problems in defence
Robinson is the natural replacement for O’Connell as a left-footed central defender. Unfortunately the 26-year-old does not offer anywhere near as much going forwards in the overlapping centre-back role.
Yet this wasn’t the only reason Stevens was switched to replace him at the back. The Republic of Ireland international was not providing the same threat from out wide early this season as he had done in 2019/20.
New signing Lowe has therefore come in there, but he too has lacked form.
However, Stevens was nervy in central defence at the weekend. As a natural full-back, perhaps it would make the most sense to give him another opportunity out wide.
So, who replaces Stevens at the back? Robinson has already been given a chance and was solid, if nothing more.
Perhaps the most dynamic option in the position is Ethan Ampadu. Unable to play on Saturday because of being on loan from Chelsea, Ampadu has already been seen in defence and midfield this term.
Ampadu is a hugely talented player and should be back in the starting XI after the international break when the Blades host West Ham United.
Having the Wales international at the back and either Stevens or Osborn at wing-back might be a solid alternative.