Sheffield United travel to Sunderland this week knowing that nothing but a win will be good enough after recent results.
A dismal defeat at the hands of Luton Town this weekend has allowed Middlesbrough to close the gap on United to just four points. And with Michael Carrick’s side facing two consecutive home games against teams they should beat, the pressure is on the Blades.
A trip to Sunderland – who are chasing the top six themselves – is probably the last thing Paul Heckingbottom wanted to see. But it’s there for him and his squad to face head on, and it’s a game where only three points will do.
However, United face a big problem on the night in terms of striker Oli McBurnie. As reported by Yorkshire Live today, McBurnie is one yellow card away from a two-game suspension having accumulated nine bookings already. Another one at the Stadium of Light would see him miss United’s next two league games.
The EFL’s rules for suspensions mean that should McBurnie get through the night unscathed, then the previous nine yellows will essentially ‘drop off’. That will leave United’s number nine free and available for the run-in.
Sheffield United News View: Oli McBurnie has to keep his discipline at Sunderland
Any player can pick up a yellow card at any moment but some players are more vital than others at Sheffield United right now.
If we are to miss McBurnie for two big league games then it’s a bit of a disaster. McBurnie has been excellent all season long alongside Iliman Ndiaye. And with the forward options hardly busting with options right now, it’s imperative the Blades keep McBurnie available.
For the player himself, it makes the trip to Sunderland hard. Such is McBurnie’s nature and style of play, it means he’s always likely to be close to a yellow.
With a bit of luck, the game is refereed as a Championship fixture and some things are overlooked.