Chris Wilder has been coy on the injury that kept Jack O’Connell out of Sheffield United’s win at Preston North End.
David McGoldrick’s first half goal was enough to secure all three points for the Blades at Deepdale. It also moved them back into second in the table after Leeds United lost 1-0 at Birmingham City.
Yet despite thoughts he would have recovered, O’Connell did not feature against Preston because of a calf injury picked up in the previous week’s 3-2 home defeat to Bristol City.
United travel to Birmingham themselves on Wednesday, but doubts remain over whether the defender will be fit to play.
“We’ll see how Jack is. All I’m going to say is the same as I did earlier and that is he’ll be given every chance,” Wilder told the Sheffield Star.
Is O’Connell missed?
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The simple answer is yes, of course. However, the more pleasing thing for Wilder and the fans is the Blades have a squad that can cope without him.
O’Connell has been one of the side’s most consistent players since joining from Brentford in the summer of 2016. Until another recent fitness issue, the 25-year-old had played 100 successive league games for the club.
He has now missed four of their last nine Championship outings. In O’Connell’s absence, usual left-back Enda Stevens has been filling in as a makeshift central defender.
And what would you know, in those four matches the Blades have keep four clean sheets.
This is not to say O’Connell is dispensable – far from it. When everyone is fit Wilder’s preferred central defensive trio is Chris Basham, John Egan and O’Connell.
Yet knowing that there are other capable options (centre-backs Marin Cranie and Richard Stearman also came off the bench at the weekend) makes injuries far easier to deal with.
Whether O’Connell plays at Birmingham or not, there should be confidence of getting all three points.