Sheffield United have a problem ahead of their trip to Brighton and Hove Albion as John Fleck is suspended.
Fleck picked up his fifth yellow card of the season during the Premier League win over Aston Villa. It means the midfielder now has to serve a one-match ban.
The absence of Fleck is significant as the Scotland international has been a key part of the team this season. The 28-year-old scored both goals in the 2-0 victory over Villa, for instance. Fleck also netted in the 3-0 triumph against Burnley and the 3-3 draw with Manchester United.
Yet the Blades have coped without the Scot already this term, with injury ruling him out of two league matches towards the beginning of the campaign. Without Fleck they drew 2-2 at Chelsea and lost 2-1 at home to Leicester City.
So who will replace the suspended John Fleck at Brighton?
When Fleck was unavailable last time, Luke Freeman was the man tasked with replacing him in the starting XI. Freeman came off the bench when his teammate went down injured against Crystal Palace and set up John Lundstram for the winner.
This earned him successive starts in the next two games, but since then he has played just 27 minutes in the top flight – all from the bench.
However, Freeman still arguably remains the best like-for-like replacement for Fleck in Chris Wilder’s squad. But that’s only if Wilder keeps the system exactly the same.
If not, there are more options. Mo Besic has struggled for game time since arriving on loan from Everton on deadline day, but has been used as a substitute in the last two matches.
In the 2-1 win at Norwich City, Besic particularly impressed. A defensive midfielder, the Bosnia and Herzegovina international could shift into Oliver Norwood’s position. This would allow the play-maker more freedom further up the pitch.
Alternatively, Wilder could opt for a more attacking approach. Ravel Morrison, who has played just 12 minutes of Premier League football in 2019/20, is ready-made for the number ten role. Yet there might be concerns over his match fitness, particularly from the start.
David McGoldrick is another potential in the hole between midfield and the strikers. Yet to score a goal this season, McGoldrick is a superb linkup player and could form a three-man attack with Lys Mousset and another forward.
Finally there is Ben Osborn, who has the ability to play at wing-back and in the middle. Although he only has 13 minutes of league action to his name this term, Osborn arguably offers the most stability in a flat three.