Oliver Norwood was withdrawn from action at Norwich City last time out due to Chris Wilder fearing a booking was on the way for his star midfielder.
Norwood has already picked up a yellow card and with the game becoming stretched, Wilder moved to protect his captain from a potential red card.
The yellow for Norwood does mean that he is one away from a one-match suspension. However, the Blades boss clearly felt it crucial to have his midfielder available for this weekend’s clash with Aston Villa at least. Indeed, Norwood is among a group of United players who may have to tread lightly in the coming weeks.
Speaking before the Villa game, Wilder made the admission about Norwood.
— James Shield (@JamesShield1) December 12, 2019
The update from the Sheffield United boss will put to bed any fears over Norwood’s fitness. The former Fulham and Brighton star has been an ever-present this season in the Premier League. Although he was withdrawn, on-loan Everton man, Mo Besic, stepped in and put a fine performance in himself.
That display from Besic will have allayed some of Wilder’s fears about potential suspensions or injuries.
How important is Ollie Norwood to Sheffield United?
Few thought the Blades could find a replacement for Paul Coutts a couple of seasons back. But the signing of Norwood has quashed those fears.
Norwood has gone on to become integral to how the Blades play and set up. Aside from his excellent dead-ball delivery, his positional sense in front of the back four and use of the ball has been key for United.
While he isn’t the quickest and isn’t the biggest, he is the typical type of midfielder who makes things tick. Put simply, the Blades are a worse side without a fully-fit Oliver Norwood in the middle of the park.
As mentioned, Mo Besic did step in and do a good job. Coincidentally, there is a chance both Besic and Norwood could end up playing together as the Blades face tough away fixtures at the likes of Liverpool and Man City in the coming weeks.