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John Fleck illness makes playing David McGoldrick at No.10 against Fulham a no-brainer

Illness will keep John Fleck out for Sheffield United this weekend as they visit Fulham.

Yorkshire Live reports Fleck was also absent for Monday’s 3-0 Premier League defeat to West Ham United after being admitted to hospital.

Manager Chris Wilder isn’t confident the midfielder will be back for Saturday night’s trip to Craven Cottage.

“We’ve got the results back and he’s being monitored at the moment,” Wilder said in his pre-match press conference.

“So, I’ve got no real news about his return, which is hugely disappointing.”

With the news that John Egan will miss the next eight weeks with a dislocated toe, this just adds to the Blades’ mounting fitness problems.

In midfield, Sander Berge remains a long-term absentee and Wilder says the Norway international is now receiving specialist treatment in London.

How to deal with John Fleck illness

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With Berge out, United had hit a midfield trio which had served them well in recent weeks.

Wilder reverted back to the tried and tested triumvirate which brought so much success in 2019/20 of John Lundstram and Ollie Norwood alongside Fleck.

Prior to their defeat to West Ham, the Blades had won six of their previous nine matches in all competitions. Fleck, Lundstram and Norwood started eight of those together.

Without the former at the London Stadium, Ben Osborn came into midfield. It didn’t work, with Norwood actually one of the worst performers in a poor display all round.

If United are to upset the odds and avoid relegation this season, then they have to beat Fulham.

Which perhaps means being a little less cautious and bit more adventurous in attack. Therefore, with no Fleck, it’s the perfect opportunity to play David McGoldrick as a number ten behind the two strikers.

We’ve written extensively about this tactic before. The 3-4-1-2 formation served Wilder well as his team earned promotion from the Championship in 2018/19.

Back then Mark Duffy played in attacking midfield and McGoldrick was upfront, but the 33-year-old is ideally suited to dropping deeper.

Despite being the club’s top scorer this term with six goals, the retired Republic of Ireland international is actually much more effective linking up play.

McGoldrick lacks a killer instinct in the box shown by Billy Sharp and even Lys Mousset.

But as the link between midfield and attack, he thrives.

The Blades need points and goals desperately. So, why not throw a little caution to the wind and start with three forwards?

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