Chris Wilder’s Kieran Dowell experiment failed despite victory over Preston

If you told Kieran Dowell when he arrived at Sheffield United that he would become a left-wing-back he’d have probably laughed.

The youngster is an attacking midfielder by trade and although players breaking through have a tendency to claim they’ll play wherever for the team, this is a position where for obvious reasons he didn’t look comfortable.

The Everton man arrived in January on loan from the Premier League club but hasn’t shown too many signs of replicating the displays he turned in for Nottingham Forest last season.

Despite that, he’s still an incredibly exciting talent and after starring for England at the U20 World Cup in which they won in 2017, is one that’s been hotly tipped for a while.

Chris Wilder’s men won 1-0 with Dowell in their ranks last Saturday, but the experiment of playing him at left wing-back didn’t pay off as the 21-year-old was substituted after just 63 minutes.

KIERAN DOWELL (Preston vs Sheffield United)

33 touches

71% pass success

0 key passes

0 dribbles

0 tackles

Stats courtesy of WhoScored

After an injury to Jack O’Connell two weekends ago, Wilder was forced into bringing on Marvin Johnson to play in the left wing-back role against Bristol City after Enda Stevens was moved into the three-man defence.

It was a decision that proved disastrous for the Blades with the Yorkshire club losing 3-2 a fortnight ago, despite being in a winning position when Johnson came on.

So against Preston, the manager chose to go with Dowell and although they won it’s probably something he won’t opt for again.

Dowell’s pass completion rate wasn’t particularly amazing whilst he was ineffective going forward.

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One of the main qualities a wing back must possess are phenomenal attacking traits but he failed to provide the Blades with much in the final third, not completing a single dribble or key pass.

To get the best out of Dowell during the promotion run-in, he must play in a more advanced and central role.