Sheffield United will be short of two key men heading into their next game against Nottingham Forest as John Egan misses out due to suspension and Chris Basham is almost certainly going to be absent with an injury, per The Star.
The Yorkshire club’s back three have been unbelievable this season. The Blades have conceded only 39 goals this season making their defence the best in the Championship.
Chris Wilder rarely strays from his favoured trio of Egan, Basham and Jack O’Connell and that has been the winning formula this season.
The United defence is about so much more than keeping goals out though, as Basham and O’Connell are given the freedom to burst forward and create opportunities in the final third.
Basham averages 0.8 key passes per game which is an anomaly for centre backs in the division – the 30-year-old is one of Sheffield United’s most potent attacking threats as well as being a rock at the back.
John Egan, on the other hand, plays the role of the middle centre-back in the back three and his role is much more strict as he doesn’t venture forward like his centre-back partners.
Luckily for the Blades, they have two ready-made replacements in the shape of Martin Cranie and Richard Stearman.
Cranie can bring the attacking threat and carry the ball out of defence just as well as Basham. The 32-year-old has played that role brilliantly in his 13 appearances so far this season and his assist for Kieron Dowell at the Hawthorns in February highlighted his attacking prowess.
Cranie provides brilliant cover as a ball playing defender and can slot in perfectly as Basham’s replacement for the next few weeks.
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Stearman will have to play Egan’s role, which does make United’s back line somewhat weaker. Stearman doesn’t possess the quality that Egan does but the Blades can count themselves lucky that Egan will only miss the game against Forest.
Martin O’Neill’s side have only netted six goals in their previous six games so Egan shouldn’t be missed too much in a game where Stearman shouldn’t be threatened too much.