Sheffield United: Mark Duffy had to be persuaded not to play against Oxford United

Mark Duffy leaves the pitch at Rochdale last weekend
Mark Duffy leaves the pitch at Rochdale last weekend

Mark Duffy had to be persuaded not to play against Oxford earlier this week after insisting he was ready to push himself through the pain barrier against Michael Appleton’s side.

Alan Knill, Sheffield United’s assistant manager, revealed the midfielder had volunteered for selection despite injuring a knee at Rochdale three days earlier before being convinced missing the game was in both his and the club’s best interests.

“On Saturday, there was a tackle over the far side and he tweaked his knee,” Knill said. “We just thought, Duff wants to play, but we didn’t want to risk it with eleven games left.

“He’s a big player for us and we want him fully fit. Plus, the good thing is, we feel the squad is strong enough for us, in this instance, to leave him at home.”

Duffy, previously of Birmingham City, is a key player in the United team which moved eight points clear at the top of the League One table after triumphing 3-2 at the Kassam Stadium. Chris Wilder’s squad is without a match this weekend but returns to action at Swindon Town on Tuesday. Duffy is expected to be passed fit ahead of that fixture while Jake Wright should also be available for selection despite suffering a facial injury against his former club.

“Jake’s gone to make the challenge and got a big gash,” Knill said. “We’ll just have to wait because he had stitches.

Jake Wright has received stitches in the nose wound he sustained at Oxford: Robin Parker/Sportimage

Jake Wright has received stitches in the nose wound he sustained at Oxford: Robin Parker/Sportimage

“He should be used to things like that by now. It’s part of the job. Stitches are stitches. You know, when you play centre-half, that you are going to get bashed about. It comes with the territory.”