Oliver Norwood has been crucial to Sheffield United’s success this season after arriving on loan in the summer.
Norwood is yet to miss a single minute of Championship football for the Blades since that arrival from Brighton and Hove Albion. The midfielder has even been awarded the captaincy on occasions and has scored two goals and provided four assists.
Now another statistic has emerged that proves that Norwood is among the best players in the division.
So far in 2018/19, no one in the second tier of English football has played more key passes than the 27-year-old’s 55. In fact no other player comes close.
Second placed in the list is Jack Grealish of Aston Villa with 47. Grealish is quickly followed by Mason Mount (46), Pablo Hernandez (45), Barry Bannan and Stewart Downing (both 44).
Norwood is streets ahead and proving to be another shrewd signing by manager Chris Wilder.
Why is Norwood so important?
After being promoted from League One the Blades took to life back in the Championship immediately in 2017/18. With Wilder at the helm they looked liked finishing in the playoffs for much of the campaign.
In the end United finished in tenth position. Yet it’s believed were it not for a season-ending injury to Paul Coutts they could have maintained their promotion challenge.
United were too reliant on Coutts and Wilder addressed the situation. Norwood was signed on loan having helped Brighton and Fulham to promotion in the previous two years.
His impact was instant and the ever canny Wilder quickly moved to make his stay at Bramall Lane permanent before any other club swooped in. The Blades will pay, according to the Sheffield Star, the relatively small fee of £2m to secure Norwood in January.
If United are to go one better this year and get promoted – or at least finish in the playoffs – then the Northern Ireland international is going to be key to that.