Sheffield United boosted their promotion hopes with an emphatic 4-0 win against Reading.

The victory moved the Blades into second place in the Championship with just 13 matches left to play.

Things remain tight at the top of the table with Leeds United level on points with a game in hand. West Bromwich Albion have also played one fewer matches than United and are four points behind.

Yet as the season reaches the business end Chris Wilder’s side may have proven at the weekend why they could have the edge.

Blades strength in depth

Wilder made a surprising call against the Royals by naming top scorer Billy Sharp on the bench. Sharp has 22 league goals in 2018/19 while David McGoldrick, who has 11, was also named among the substitutes.

“I just named the team. You just have to accept it,” Wilder told the Sheffield Star.

“There’s no special cases here. There’s no fannying around, talking people through it. Okay, on occasion you might do that. But if you’re here, you just have to buy into it because the group always comes first.

“It was a little bit of a change in the way we play, but I always try and pick the right team for the game. The Championship is ruthless and relentless.”

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

The decision worked, with Gary Madine scoring his first two goals for United after joining on loan from Cardiff City in January.

Alongside Madine upfront Scott Hogan looked lively and caused problems on his debut having been signed from Aston Villa, also on loan.

Wilder has the strength in depth to not have to bring either of his top scorers off the bench and still win 4-0. Elsewhere, Enda Stevens continues to impress as a makeshift centre-back.

In every position Wilder has at least two options. Another January signing in Kieran Dowell is now pushing Mark Duffy for the number ten role behind the strikers.

Wilder’s impressive work in the transfer market has given him a squad that can now make a genuine push for the Premier League.

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