Sheffield United trio Billy Sharp, Enda Stevens and Oli McBurnie face a race against time to be included and available for the season opener against Birmingham City.
The attacking duo both missed out last night as United ran out 4-0 winners against Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium. Goals from Lys Mousset (2), Oliver Burke, and Luke Freeman ensured United earned a comfortable win.
But there were a few notable absentees on the night. Strikers Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp missed out, while Enda Stevens was also not in the squad.
And speaking after the game, new Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic admitted that while the outlook is promising for McBurnie and Sharp, there is a question mark over Stevens.
“Oli McBurnie and Billy Sharp should both be back and ready to start on Sunday, after the Norwich game,” Jokanovic said.
“But with Enda we need to wait some weeks more.”
Rhys Norrington-Davies was also missing from the squad last night. But there was no word on him and why he was unavailable in Stevens’ absence.
On the night, Jokanovic went with a front three of Burke, McGoldrick and Mousset for the opening 45. He opted with the reliable Ben Osborn at left-back, before switching to the 3-5-2 for the second period.
United cruised home last night and while it was only a friendly, there were good signs for all involved. Jokanovic will have liked what he saw, especially in parts.
The Blades seemed slick, fit, and sharp in their passing and movements. The big bonus was this was with a weeks training missed, players out, and it being a first real competitive friendly of the summer.
Sharp and McBurnie will play key roles in the campaign. But on last night’s evidence, there’s no major rush to see either player back too quickly.
Stevens being missing is a bigger concern. Ben Osborn did well as always but he’ll be hoping to play in the midfield if he can this term. Plus, Enda has been so reliable, we need him fit really.
Hopefully, all three are back in contention soon, albeit the Birmingham fixture could come that little bit too soon.