The Chalkboard: Wilder has to play O’Connell despite injury

Sheffield United’s automatic promotion hopes were significantly dented after defeat against Bristol City last weekend.

However, there has been good news since with Jack O’Connell in training after injury, according to The Sheffield Star.

Blades fans would have been fearing the worst after his substitution on Saturday as the Yorkshire club let a lead slip and ultimately went on to lose.

However, even if there are fears over O’Connell aggravating his injury, he simply has to play against Preston this weekend.

Collapsed without him

Sheffield United’s collapse as soon as the 25-year-old defender went off last Saturday was incredibly alarming. It’s not often the Blades are rumbled quite as they were against Lee Johnson’s men, but the fact they conceded twice when one of their key men went off shows his influence.

The centre-back has been key this season and the team’s ability to somehow lose despite winning 2-1 gave evidence of why he may just be their most vital man.

O’Connell’s calf injury meant he had to be replaced by Marvin Johnson as Enda Stevens was forced into playing as the left centre-back. However, it was a disastrous change as the club conceded almost immediately after he left the pitch, proving the Englishman is near irreplaceable.

Pivotal figure

In a promotion race that has become so tight with Leeds, O’Connell is now going to become even more vital.

The 6 ft 1 man has missed just three matches this term, featuring 36 times for the Blades. He’s made a mightily impressive 4.8 clearances per game whilst winning 4.7 aerial duels at the same time.

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Having recently just completed 100 consecutive league starts for the club, it’s clear they would be a worse side without him.

Wilder, via The Sheffield Star, spoke about him this week: “Obviously we’re not 100 per cent sure yet, so we’ll see how he goes on through the week. But we’re hopeful he’ll be okay for the game.”

Blades fans will, therefore, be praying that one of their most vital men is given the all clear. But to put it simply, Wilder must play him to ensure their promotion hopes remain on track.

Article title: The Chalkboard: Wilder has to play O’Connell despite injury

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