One of the biggest and brightest sparks for Sheffield United in their win over Brighton last night, was the performance of Ben Osborn.
The former Nottingham Forest man has been on the periphery for United for much of his career. Often used by Chris Wilder as a wing-back if he did play, Osborn has shown willingness, desire, and adaptability within the squad.
Under Paul Heckingbottom, however, Osborn has been enjoying a role further forward. The last few games have seen ‘Ozzie’ pushed up almost alongside Rhian Brewster and David McGoldrick. It means that just this season, Osborn has played left wing-back, central midfield (both sides of the three), and in this new advanced role.
In fairness to Osborn, you could probably put him in the net and he’d be up for it. Indeed, he’s the sort of character that Sheffield United supporters love.
The same cannot be said for a certain John Lundstram. The contract rebel has had a woeful season (as have others) but his continued selection, especially in the last few months, has baffled Blades. It begs the question, then, as to why Osborn hasn’t featured more for United.
Ben Osborn showing why Lundstram should have been dropped
We can all understand the reasons why Chris Wilder stuck with Lundstram for a period of the season. Wilder wanted balance in his midfield, a left and right footer either side of Ollie Norwood. Further, ‘Lunny’ had also served him well last season.
But with his own performances being as bad as the rest of the team, Lundstram should have been out a while ago. Osborn, to his credit, has stuck at it and played whenever required with the usual 100% effort.
Surely, though, this is a change that Alan Knill and Wilder could have made so much earlier in the season? In no way am I saying it would have stopped the plight, but Osborn has displayed the energy, desire, and infectious attitude in recent weeks that rubs off on others. Injuries, too, also play a part.
That was something Paul Heckingbottom mentioned last night. He credited Osborn with having a positive effect on his teammates. The slight change in shape seems to have suited United and Osborn. He’s giving defenders something else to think about which, in turn, allows the likes of McGoldrick, Fleck, and Brewster to have that extra bit of time on the ball.
So, while Wilder is a Blades legend and always will be. It does beg the question as to why Osborn hasn’t been used instead of Lundstram for much of this season.