Chris Basham believes that a new rule allowing extra substitutions in the Premier League could hinder Sheffield United.
Top flight football in England returns on Wednesday as part of ‘Project Restart’. It had been indefinitely suspended since March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Blades will actually kick things off with their rearranged trip to Aston Villa. It will be the first time fans get to see English football in its new guise.
All games will be played behind closed doors, while some new rules have also been introduced.
This includes the substitutes’ bench being increased from seven players to nine. Teams will also be permitted to make five subs during the match, instead of three. However, these can still only be made at a maximum of three different times during the game.
These rules are already being utilised in the Bundesliga – which restarted last month – with the aim being to combat any potential fitness issues following an unscheduled, extended break.
Yet Basham thinks it unfairly impacts sides such as United.
“I think the substitutes thing that has come in will affect us a little bit because we are not going to be as strong as the top six sides,” the 31-year-old told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“But we are going to give it a good go and the manager would not let us do anything other than that.”
Why Basham has a point
It’s understandable why this new rule has been introduced, but in truth it does benefit those teams with bigger squads and more resources.
This effectively means the richer clubs – several of which are currently competing with the Blades for European qualification.
The likes of Chelsea and Manchester United, five and three points ahead of them currently in fourth and fifth respectively, fall into that bracket. As do Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, who are directly behind the seventh-placed Blades in the table.
Only Burnley, Leicester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers have used fewer different players than Chris Wilder so far this season.
In contrast, Spurs have used the most with 29. Meanwhile, Man United (28) and the Gunners (27) are also in the top four. Chelsea aren’t far behind with 26.
Hopefully it won’t have a significant impact, but it’s easy to see why Basham has concerns.