Blades boss, Chris Wilder, has admitted he has a decision to make ahead of the clash with Leeds on Sunday as he prepares to replace key defender, John Egan.
United will be missing their Irish defender through suspension after his red card at Aston Villa. The gap means there is an opening in the back three, with Phil Jagielka and Ethan Ampadu the most likely replacements.
But Wilder, speaking ahead of the game to Radio Sheffield, hinted that he has yet to make his mind up and that even a change of formation could come into his thinking.
“Well Ethan comes into the picture. Phil Jagielka comes into the picture. A change of shape might come into the picture. There’s all sorts I need to consider,” Wilder said.
“Ethan is going to play a big part in our season. It’s obviously Phil’s natural position so yeah, there’s some decisions to be made”.
A change in shape would likely see a back four of Baldock, Stevens, Basham, and O’Connell. However, Wilder did move ‘Bash’ from that role at Villa, with Ampadu stepping in off the bench.
That suggests that Wilder isn’t comfortable with Basham as part of his central two, which could be a hint into his thinking ahead of the visit of Marcelo Bielsa’s men.
A back three the most likely, Ampadu has the class to step right in
While Jagielka is the obvious replacement, it can’t be denied that Ampadu has looked the part since he arrived, albeit in two short appearances.
He is highly-regarded by Chelsea and Billy Sharp, the Blades skipper, has spoken of how impressed he’s been with the young Welsh star since he arrived.
In all likelihood, then, we’d expect to see Ampadu alongisde O’Connell and Basham in a back three, with Jagielka taking his place back among the subs.