Normally, an international break isn’t welcome among the footballing community. In the midst of a busy season, a lot of fans see them as an unnecessary distraction and break from chasing trophies and promotion. But for Sheffield United, this time’s break is more than needed.
United have endured a gruelling few months of fixtures which has seen the squad ravaged by injuries. At one point, there were only eleven fit first-team players, while at Blackpool, five of the seven subs were academy players.
No wonder, then, that Paul Heckingbottom is hoping to use this international period to his advantage. Unfortunately, some of the players are away with their countries. The likes of Egan, Hourihane, Norrington-Davies and Gibbs-White have all been called up, as have the likes of Daniel Jebbison.
But some who haven’t will be getting a much-needed rest. According to The Athletic, a number of senior players will be given the full week off by Heckingbottom. Those players include Ben Osborn, Wes Foderingham, Jack Robinson and Oliver Norwood. It’s also claimed that Billy Sharp would have got the same treatment if not for his worrying looking injury.
“I’ve told them to switch off. I am hoping I don’t hear from any of them. If they ring me up, I’ll know it’s about a problem,” The Athletic quotes Heckingbottom as saying.
Our View: Sheffield United Needed This Break More Than Anyone
Talk about good timing. If ever there was a squad in need of a rest at the moment, it’s this Sheffield United squad. And that is not a dig at them. Far from it, in fact. If anything, it is a compliment to just how well and how hard they’ve worked in the last few months.
The effort to climb to fifth in the table has been nothing short of remarkable. As we saw at the weekend, bodies are starting to come back into the mix. That is a huge bonus, and having players like Stevens and Fleck back for the run-in is a massive bonus.
The big problem United have now is hoping that the international contingent stay injury free. A knock to any of the call-ups would be massive. Heckingbottom, then, will be sweating as the games get underway over the weekend and beyond.