For only the third time this season Sheffield United were without Mark Duffy on Saturday as they lost 1-0 at Nottingham Forest.
News that Duffy was injured sparked concern among the fans that he would also be missing for the upcoming Steel City Derby.
Luckily Chris Wilder has confirmed that along with Chris Basham – who served a one-match ban at the weekend – the 33-year-old will be available for selection against Sheffield Wednesday.
“Mark wasn’t really close to play against Forest but he’ll be ready for the week ahead,” Wilder told the Sheffield Star. “He and Bash will be ready for next Friday, and we’ve not picked up any more injuries either.
“Mark makes that No.10 position look really easy. He is comfortable with it and has played in it for two years really well.”
He certainly does make it look easy. In fact it could be argued that Duffy is the player who’s most difficult to replace in the Blades team.
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In three seasons since Wilder took charge, United have enjoyed the most success when playing a 3-4-1-2 formation that utilises Duffy in behind the two strikers.
Without him at Forest the boss dropped in a third central midfielder to presumably make the side more difficult to break down. This also limits their attacking prowess. With no natural replacement in the number ten role Wilder had to improvise.
Going forward Duffy is the link between midfield and the forwards and his return could be the catalyst to spark victory when Wednesday visit Bramall Lane on Friday.
Even if he wasn’t available the Blades would still be favourites at home against their rivals, but supporters will be far more confident with their attacking lynchpin in a game where form means nothing.