The Chalkboard: Wilder reaps reward of bringing Duffy back into the fold

Sheffield United maintained their momentum in the Championship promotion race with a 2-0 win over Rotherham United in the south Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane on Saturday.

The vital goals for the Blades came courtesy of Jack O’Connell and Mark Duffy. Sheffield United fans will be especially delighted to have seen the latter score on his return to the starting XI.

On the chalkboard

The 33-year-old attacker produced a fine strike from range to double the Blades’ advantage over Rotherham. His goal also sent a message to manager Chris Wilder, who may now be regretting having ever taken the veteran out of the limelight.

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The Liverpool-born ace has notched four goals and six assists in the Championship this season, as per Transfermarkt’s stats. 

However, Wilder benched Duffy for Sheffield United’s two games prior to Saturday’s triumph, including the goalless draw against bitter rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

Many fans were furious to see Duffy left out of the line-up for the Steel City derby, and took to Twitter to make their feelings on the matter clear. However, the head coach now looks to have seen the light and is already benefitting from having the star back in his plans. 

Making room for Duffy

The experienced and versatile midfielder brings a great deal of creativity and guile to Wilder’s side. Despite his age, he still also has plenty of energy and stamina. With him in the team, the Blades are certainly less predictable in the final third. 

Whilst Everton loanee Kieran Dowell has impressed since his January arrival, Wilder should recognise that Duffy still offers something that the 21-year-old can’t. So the manager must continue to make room for the senior man in his starting XI, and fans will certainly be glad to see their boss doing this.