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Heckingbottom defends Lundstram, but it's too late to save his reputation at Sheffield United

Sheffield United caretaker manager, Paul Heckingbottom, has defended John Lundstram.

It’s expected to be Lundstram’s last game for the club if he features against Burnley in the Premier League this afternoon.

The midfielder may have already played his last match, having been benched for four of the last six Blades outings.

Having turned down the offer of a new contract, Lundstram is set to leave Bramall Lane this summer when his current deal expires.

Having played an important role for United in 2019/20 in their first top flight season in 12 years, it will be a sorry end to his time in South Yorkshire.

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Lundstram played just 10 league fixtures during the Championship promotion campaign of 2018/19.

Yet a tweak in tactics saw the 27-year-old included in midfield 36 times last term and he scored five goals in his box-to-box role.

Having been playing League One football just two years prior with Oxford United, Lundstram’s rise reflected that of the Blades.

But his decision to leave the club has coincided with a serious drop in form this season. Some fans have grown frustrated with his lacklustre displays as United have been relegated.

Sheffield United interim boss defends Lundstram

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However, as the former England Under-20 international’s Blades career comes to an end, Heckingbottom has leapt to his defence.

“One thing I’ll say about Lunny – and I want this on record – is that he’s been fantastic in training and he applies himself well,” the 43-year-old told The Sheffield Star.

“He’s found himself in a difficult situation. We’ll see how it pans out. But I want it on record that he’s been nothing other than totally professional ever since we came in.”

Heckingbottom may be right about training, but that certainly has been transferred to the pitch in recent months.

Lundstram has a right to choose his own path. Of course he does. But he’s been playing like someone who doesn’t want to be at the club.

Therefore, the fact Lundstram has made 32 appearances in all competitions in 2020/21 is particularly galling.

He was such a big part of United’s best campaign in recent memory. But among most supporters, Lundstram will always be remembered as a player who downed tools when he was needed most.

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