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Sheffield United defensive crisis could force change of system with Basham the latest injury

Chris Basham is the latest Sheffield United player to suffer an injury.

Basham was forced off during the 1-0 Premier League defeat to Fulham on Saturday night.

Manager Chris Wilder has since confirmed the defender has a hamstring problem and is unlikely to face Liverpool in their next match.

“Basham has done his hamstring. The fittest kid in the club by a million miles,” Wilder told Yorkshire Live after the loss at Craven Cottage.

“Top professional, looks after his body. Played how many games over the last three or four years and does his hamstring.

“Bash has over-stretched and it’s really disappointing to see him come off the pitch.

“We will wait and see. We will get back to Sheffield and see what’s what and assess, but I would be very surprised if he was available next week.”

It means that the Blades’ first choice back three, who brought them so much success over the past two seasons, are now all side-lined.

Jack O’Connell has played just twice this term after having knee surgery back in September. Meanwhile, John Egan is out for eights weeks after suffering a dislocated toe in last week’s defeat at West Ham United.

It just adds to what has already been a hugely difficult campaign in terms of injuries. Sander Berge is another long-term absentee, while John Fleck, Lys Mousset and Jack Robinson are all currently out as well.

With no Basham, at the back that leaves Wilder with just three available centre-backs for Sunday’s visit of the Champions to Bramall Lane.

Will Basham injury force change of system?

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If Wilder sticks with his tried and trusted 3-5-2 formation, then logic would suggest Ethan Ampadu, Phil Jagielka and Kean Bryan would have to start.

All three also started against the Cottagers, with Ampadu playing in midfield. However, the Chelsea loanee has looked most effective when in defence.

Enda Stevens – who played at left wing-back in West London – could also drop into a back three if needed. But the Republic of Ireland international has endured a serious dip in form in 2020/21 and may be too risky an option out of position.

Alternatively, Wilder could move away from the system he has so staunchly defended; even when results have faltered this season.

Although that would be a big call to make against a Liverpool side looking to defend their title. Even if the Reds have suffered their own downturn in form recently, losing their last four league games.

Yet with Wilder having effectively admitted his team are relegated, then there is almost nothing to lose. They are bottom of the table and 14 points from safety, after all.

Plus, the amount of injuries the 53-year-old is having to contend with – particularly in defence – may take the decision out of his hands in any case.

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