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Sheffield United: Jack O’Connell praised as he prepares for return to Brentford

Jack O'Connell (centre) with team mates Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Jack O'Connell (centre) with team mates Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder has expressed his delight at Jack O’Connell’s impact since joining Sheffield United from Brentford, claiming the defender’s contribution to their recent success vindicates his transfer policies.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s match against O’Connell’s former club at Griffin Park, the United manager admitted the prospect of regular first team football had persuaded the centre-half to return north at the beginning of last season.

Highlighting O’Connell’s performances throughout last season’s League One title winning campaign and this term’s push for the Championship play-offs, Wilder said: “Jack’s been excellent but what I really like about him is the fact he’s not satisfied with that, he wants to keep pushing and driving it on.

“That’s why we brought him here. That’s the type of person we want in the squad and, fortunately, that’s what we’ve got.

“We know what qualities we look for when we enter the market and he ticks all of those boxes.”

O’Connell endured a frustrating 17 months in the capital, making only 18 appearances for Dean Smith’s side before moving to United. The Liverpudlian has featured in all but five of their games under Wilder, with only five of his 90 outings coming from the bench.

“We paid a fee for Jack that suggested he was going to be involved,” Wilder added. “I think that probably sent a message. Sometimes, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t get going for you somewhere. You can be unfortunate with the timing of things like injuries or suspensions. There are always casualties.”

United, who travelled to London by train earlier today, are ninth in the table but only two points behind sixth-placed Middlesbrough.

“We’ve just got to try and keep it going,” Wilder said. “Get ready for one last really big effort. Big games are settled by making the right decisions in big moments.”