Sheffield United: Blades set to take big derby decision over Jamal Blackman ahead of their clash with Leeds

Jamal Blackman has rejoined Sheffield United's first team squad
Jamal Blackman has rejoined Sheffield United's first team squad
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Jamal Blackman has returned to training with Sheffield United, manager Chris Wilder confirmed this morning.

Blackman has been absent since injuring his groin before last month’s visit to Norwich City but, with fellow goalkeeper Simon Moore suspended, could return to the starting eleven when Leeds visit Bramall Lane on Saturday.

Speaking during his pre-match media conference, Wilder revealed coaching staff will “make a judgement” on the 24-year-old’s fitness over the next 48 hours after he was granted permission to rejoin United’s squad after undergoing treatment at his parent club Chelsea.

Steelphalt Academy graduate Jake Eastwood, who replaced Moore following his red card against Wolverhampton Wanderers, is set to feature if Blackman fails to convince United he is ready to take part.

“Jamal is back, we’ll have a look at him today,” Wilder said. “If not, then we have no issues putting Jake in. The goalkeeping department is strong and we have an outstanding coach in Darren Ward; all the boys will tell you that.”

United are eighth in the table, two places above their latest opponents, with 16 matches remaining. Blackman, on loan from the reigning Premier League champions, has played 20 games so far this term.

“This is a season-defining set of fixtures and we’re positive we can come through them,” Wilder said. “We’ve got some massive games coming up and the boys will attack them, as they have all the way through. The teams at the top are pushing, the teams at the bottom are fighting for their lives and there’s team like us pushing to get in there. If you win a few on the bounce, like Fulham and Preston have, then you get right back in there.”

United triumphed 2-1 at Leeds in October, thanks to goals from Billy Sharp and David Brooks. Although he is set to miss this fixture, Brooks is closing in on a return to action after lining-up alongside Ched Evans during a development game against Sheffield Wednesday on Monday night. The youngster has been recovering from glandular fever.

“Ched has got more minutes under his belt and that’s good,” Wilder said. “The same with Brooksy, we’ve missed him because he was doing well. But it’s dangerous if we rush him and push him too hard. The doctors and the physios will be advising us on that.”