Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder says John Fleck was not close to returning from injury at the weekend.

Wilder made the first change to his starting XI since gaining promotion to the Premier League as Luke Freeman replaced the injured Fleck.

In the midfielder’s absence the Blades lost their first match of the season, as Leicester City beat them 2-1 at Bramall Lane.

Fleck had limped off in the first half the previous week as United beat Crystal Palace 1-0. Wilder revealed afterwards the Scot had received a knock to his hamstring.

The Blades boss had hoped substituting Fleck would just be precautionary, but the 28-year-old played no part in the defeat to Leicester.

“He wasn’t close at all. We’ll assess that and keep working on John,” Wilder told BBC Radio Sheffield.

“You want your best players back and fit and we’ll give John the best opportunity to be back for the weekend.”

When will John Fleck be back?

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

United are next in action on Tuesday night as they take their first break from league action to host Blackburn Rovers in the Carabao Cup.

From Wilder’s comments it seems that match will come too soon for Fleck and he won’t be risked. As they are playing Championship opposition, they should be able to cope without him.

However, Wilder will want as many players available as possible for the following fixture – a tricky away game at Chelsea on Saturday.

After drawing at Bournemouth on the opening day and then beating Palace, the weekend’s result was their first experience of loss this term.

Wilder will want his team to bounce back as soon as possible, but the Blues will be buoyed by their own win at Norwich City last time out.

Freeman does not perhaps offer as much defensive nous at Fleck. And at Stamford Bridge, United are likely to spend large periods without possession and may need to be more solid at the back and without the ball.

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