Sheffield United are eight games away from returning to the Premier League for the first time in 12 years.

Going into the international break they are second in the Championship table and a point ahead of third-placed Leeds United.

It has been an impressive season from the Blades and whether they are promoted or not, it has been better than many expected.

There have been some big contributions towards this success. Only Middlesbrough (31) have conceded fewer goals than the 34 United have let in. Only three teams have scored more than their 64 goals.

Yet which players have stood out the most? Here is our top 10 list for 2018/19 so far.

10. Mark Duffy

For the first half of the campaign Duffy was the most difficult player to replace in the Blades team. His role behind the two strikers is a crucial one, with the January addition of Kieran Dowell on loan relieving the pressure on the 33-year-old – who has five goals and five assists this term.

9. Chris Basham

The midfielder converted into a centre-back who best epitomises the truly unique tactics of manager Chris Wilder. Basham has fully bought into the system of overlapping centre halves and is often the player furthest forward in attack; helping him to four goals.

8. David McGoldrick

A free agent from Ipswich Town, not many would have predicted just how key a player McGoldrick would become. The striker has 12 league goals, with United winning 10 of the 11 matches he’s scored in. This form earned him a new contract until 2021.

7. Dean Henderson

He may only be on loan from Manchester United, but Henderson is a Blade through and through. Celebrating every goal and every win emphatically, the goalkeeper is one of the few Championship players to have featured in every minute of league action so far this season.

6. Enda Stevens

An important component in defence and attack, as left wing-back Stevens helps stitch Wilder’s team together. While Kieron Freeman and George Baldock having shared the role on the right, the Republic of Ireland international has been a mainstay and has six assists. Stevens even proved his versatility recently by filling in at centre back.

(Photo by Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

5. John Fleck

A midfielder who has evolved through the ranks with United and amazingly still has more League One appearances to his name than in the Championship. By next term Fleck could be playing in the Premier League and would not look out of place.

4. Jack O’Connell

Another who has come up with the Blades from the third tier and has developed into one of the leading lights in the Championship. If United don’t go up then top flight teams will be queuing up for O’Connell and his defensive resolve.

3. Billy Sharp

Captain, academy product, boyhood fan and the true heartbeat of the club. Not to mention the 22 league goals Sharp has scored this term. The striker has never really been given the chance in the Premier League (with two appearances totalling 18 minutes with Southampton) so it would be fitting if he could finally achieve it with United.

2. John Egan

A summer acquisition from Brentford, whose arrival has coincided with an impressive defensive record. That is no coincidence, with Egan proving to be worth every penny of the club record fee that was paid for him.

1. Oliver Norwood

Another who was signed in the summer, initially on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion before it became permanent in January. It could prove to be Wilder’s best ever piece of business, with Norwood clearly too good for the second tier. The midfielder is the Blades’ creative source, with seven assists and three goals in 2018/19.

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