Sheffield United: Adkins confronts set-piece situation

Neill Collins scores from a set-piece during last month's friendly at Exeter City � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Neill Collins scores from a set-piece during last month's friendly at Exeter City � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins has admitted his team is keeping some of its set-piece routines under wraps ahead of the new League One season, writes James Shield.

United begin their latest bid for promotion against Gillingham in seven days time and have spent the past two months perfecting a series of routines after proving vulnerable at dead-ball situations last term.

Adkins, who took charge soon after May’s play-off semi-final defeat by Swindon Town, acknowledged: “We don’t want to show our entire hand before the matches proper start. We want to keep the opposition on their toes, keep them guessing and keep a few things-up our sleeve.

“Yes, it something we’ve been working on. And we’ve got a few ideas which we are confident will prove of benefit throughout the year.”

United complete their preparations for the visit to Priestfield Stadium when they host Hull City at Bramall Lane tomorrow (kick-off 3pm). Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Matt Done will both miss the dress rehearsal after sustaining injuries during warm-up fixtures in midweek but Jamie Murphy and Marc McNulty should both be available for selection having been omitted from the squad which beat Macclesfield Town on Wednesday evening as a precautionary measure.

“Set-pieces are such a huge part of the game these days,” Adkins said. “So many goals are either scored or conceded from them that it would be foolish not to pay huge attention to them.

“We’re pleased with what we’ve seen so far, with our defensive shape in games, but there is always room for improvement. We’re striving to be the very best that we can be.”

City, who could include former United defender Harry Maguire in their starting eleven, are also poised to select Isaac Hayden after capturing the midfielder on loan from Arsenal.