Daniel Lafferty is expected to be declared available for selection against Shrewsbury Town tomorrow when Sheffield United will attempt to stretch their unbeaten run in League One competition to nine games.
The Northern Ireland international was substituted during the second-half of last weekend’s victory over Port Vale but, speaking at his pre-match media conference today, Chris Wilder confirmed his defender had been suffering from cramp.
“Daniel is okay, he’ll train with the rest of the lads,” the United manager said. “Other than that, we’re just looking at the usual bumps and bruises after another physical game.”
Despite Wilder’s generous assessment of the challenge Vale posed at Bramall Lane, the 4-0 scoreline reflected United’s dominance of a match which saw Ethan Ebanks-Landell (2), Mark Duffy and Stefan Scougall hit the target. Wilder, however, preferred to focus on some of the less glamorous aspects of United’s playing during Saturday’s contest.
“There were two or three things, I’ve got to say, which really delighted me,” he continued. “(Kieron) Freeman’s tackle early on where we got overloaded when they countered but he wanted to keep the ball out. Jack O’Connell’s tackle at 3-0 was another and Jack Wright’s header at 4-0, together with Simon Moore’s save at the same scoreline I think.
“Those bits and pieces might not get highlighted by people but they do highlight a lot of good things about the group. At both ends of the pitch (against Vale) I thought we were really good.”
Wilder’s comments about the contributions of Freeman, Moore, Wright and O’Connell were the continuation of a theme he began to develop immediately after the meeting with Bruno Ribeiro’s team. Then, after pointedly refusing to fuel the crowd’s adulation of Ebanks-Landell - “I’m not being critical but, as the lad will tell you himself, we’re all part of the same group” - Wilder warned this evening’s visit to Greenhous Meadow could prove an even tougher test of United’s promotion credentials.
Shrewsbury enter the fixture in 23rd place - 18 positions and 11 points behind United - and without a manager following Micky Mellon’s decision to join Tranmere Rovers.
“We’ve been around football long enough to know how quickly things change,” he said. “So there are no days-off if you want to achieve, no results that can be taken for granted. We’ve had to get results in different ways of late and I’m pleased with that because we don’t want to be a spike team that wins one week and then loses the next.”
With Chris Basham available again following suspension, Leon Clarke is expected to be United’s only notable absentee in Shropshire. But, with John Fleck and Paul Coutts excelling against Vale, Wilder admitted: “I think Paul and John will be a little bit disappointed if they get left out. But that’s the type of thing we are after, this type of situation. I was delighted for Flecky because it’s been a little bit of a slow start for him but we all know what a good player he is and that’s the type of performance we brought him here because of.
“Bash, though, is a big part of what we’re trying to achieve here too though so, to have him available in the group again, that’s a big thing for us.”