Conor Washington was one of two changes for Sheffield United as they beat Brentford 3-2.
Following a 2-2 draw at Rotherham United the following game, Chris Wilder made the bold decision. Mark Duffy was also dropped for John Lundstram.
It was a move that paid off, with Washington setting up Leon Clarke for the winner at Griffin Park.
This was only the forward’s second start in the Championship since joining from QPR in August, replacing captain and top scorer Billy Sharp.
With Washington in the team the Blades hassled and harried their hosts and his constant running put them under pressure.
After going behind in the sixth minute and being pegged back to 2-2 in the 65th, the 26-year-old’s presence eventually proved the difference. After playing it to Clarke, Washington dragged away several Brentford players to allow his strike partner to stroke it in.
“Conor gave us something a little bit different out there,” Wilder told the Sheffield Star.
“He’s waited patiently but we thought he was right for this game because of what he brings to the table. We picked a team to win the game. Round pegs in round holes.”
Is Washington the answer?
If there was one area of the United squad that needed improving in January it is upfront. However, Washington may have just given Wilder cause to doubt that assessment.
The Northern Ireland international provides something different, with much more mobility than Clarke, Sharp and David McGoldrick.
Washington has never been a prolific goalscorer but then with only West Bromwich Albion having more in the Championship this season, that isn’t really the Blades’ problem.
Their issue is having viable alternatives in attack when a change is needed. Wilder may still delve into the transfer market in the New Year, but at least Washington has given him something to think about.