Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder thinks his team’s current injury problems are worse than Liverpool’s.
The Blades travel to Anfield in the Premier League on Saturday, with Wilder already knowing he will be without three key players.
The 53-year-old has confirmed Jack O’Connell will miss the rest of this season after having knee surgery. Meanwhile, John Fleck is out for a month and Lys Mousset will miss at least six weeks.
Max Lowe is also a doubt for the game after suffering concussion in last Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Fulham.
However, their opponents have their own fitness concerns. The cruciate ligament Virgil van Dijk damaged in the Merseyside derby is set to keep the defender out for at least six months.
Goalkeeper Alisson Becker has also been sidelined recently and although is back in training, remains a doubt for the weekend.
Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip are also doubtful. Neither played in Wednesday’s 1-0 Champions League win over Ajax and may not have recovered in time for the visit of United, either.
“It’s all relative. Us losing Jack O’Connell, Fleck and Mousset are huge blows to us and bigger to us than them losing Virgil Van Dijk,” Wilder said in his pre-match press conference, as quoted by Yorkshire Live.
“We all have to go through these situations and there are still some world class players there, some really good players who can fit into that.
“And they have still got those three at the top of the pitch who can hurt anyone on their day.”
Are Sheffield United injury problems worse than Liverpool’s?
As Wilder says, it is relative. Especially as Liverpool have a far bigger squad and resources to cope with key absences.
That said, being without the best defender in the world is a major blow. Particularly when centre-back options for Jurgen Klopp are actually quite limited.
Without Matip as well, Fabinho filled in alongside Joe Gomez in Amsterdam – and admittedly put in a good performance.
But Van Dijk will definitely be missed. As will Alisson, with Adrian having looked shaky in his place.
Yet for the Blades, O’Connell being out has hindered them hugely – more so, perhaps surprisingly, going forwards.
In the 26-year-old’s absence, only two teams in the top flight have conceded fewer than them this term. Despite being 19th in the table currently.
But at the other end they are the lowest scorers in the division with just two goals. Jack Robinson is simply nowhere near as well suited to the overlapping centre-back role as O’Connell.
As for Fleck and Mousset, they provided 11 of United’s 39 league goals in 2019/20. It’s clear to see why they’re missed.