John Egan is unlikely to lineup for Sheffield United this evening against former club Sunderland.
Egan deserves a rest following his display during the 2-0 win at Everton. It was a defensive performance that earned praise from many. And helped lift the Blades to 10th in the Premier League table after six games.
With a home tie with Liverpool coming up on Saturday, manager Chris Wilder needs to look after his best players. Egan is certainly among them.
Yet only five years ago the Black Cats deemed the defender not good enough for them. At the time they were in the top flight, while United were battling to get out of League One. Now the roles have reversed.
John Egan reflects on time at Sunderland
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Brought over from his native Republic of Ireland in 2009, Egan’s time at the Stadium Of Light coincided with four different managers.
This lack of consistency made it difficult for the 26-year-old to breakthrough. He left for Gillingham in the summer of 2014 without making a single senior appearance.
“There was a couple of managerial changes at the time so I ended up going out on loan to a few clubs,” Egan told Pundit Arena earlier this year. “Then when I went to Bradford I broke my leg.
“Gus Poyet was the manager when I got back fit, so once I got back training I never even spoke to him really.
“It was quite weird being young and being in and around the first team to coming back from an injury and the manager not even knowing who you are.
“I knew then I needed to go out and play games so I went on loan to Southend in 2014 and did quite well.
“My move to Gillingham came off the back of that so it’s kind of been uphill ever since.”
It may have been a long time coming, but finally Egan is reaping the rewards of his hard work. Sunderland’s loss is the Blades’ gain. Egan’s upward career trajectory has coincided with their tumble down the divisions.
Signed from Brentford in 2018, the centre-back helped Wilder’s men to the joint best defensive record in the Championship as they earned promotion. Earlier this month Egan was handed the captain’s armband for Ireland.
The Black Cats may now be wondering what could have been.