Bob Harris, the Sheffield United defender, has admitted he must fend-off a challenge from Kieran Wallace in order to secure a permanent place in Nigel Adkins’ first-choice eleven.
Harris made his first appearance of the season at Crewe Alexandra last weekend after recovering from injury.
Describing Adkins’ decision to name him in the starting eleven as “a real confidence boost,” the Scot acknowledged Wallace has staked a strong claim in his absence.
“It’s been a frustrating start to the season for myself,” Harris said. “It’s been a long three months, a hard grind and lots of hard graft.
“I’ve worked hard on my fitness and, yes, it’s nice to go straight back in but Kieran Wallace especially has been excellent for us. I’ve been talking to him and helping him with the position but, yes, it’s good to be back out there trying to help the lads.”
“I enjoy having a chat with some of the younger lads,” Harris added. “I’ll always try to help them in any way I can. Obviously I’ve played full-back for a long time so there are things I could pass on the Kieran, little bits of information.”
As Harris indicated, Wallace has adjusted to the full-back position with impressive ease after joining United as a midfielder from Ilkeston. Adkins, whose side slipped eight points off the automatic promotion pace after losing at Gresty Road, recently warned the 20-year-old and fellow young Harrison McGahey could be forced to “dip in and out” of the team as they continue their development but Harris is taking nothing for granted.
“Competition for places is what we need and it’s good,” he said. “It’s good for everyone concerned, the manager and his staff and the team as a whole.”
Adkins insisted inconsistent team selections, caused largely by a series of fitness issues inherited from the previous regime, have contributed to United’s chequered form of late. Harris, who impressed during their preparations for the new campaign before being ruled-out by injury before August’s curtainraiser at Gillingham, added: “My situation sort of mirrors what has been going on throughout the squad as a whole I suppose. But we’ve got good players coming back to fitness now and, when everything gets bedded down, that’s when you’ll see the best of us I think. I definitely believe we will only get stronger as the season goes on.”