George Baldock is available to face Aston Villa after Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, confirmed he is not suffering from injury.
Fears were raised Baldock had suffered a reouccurance of the calf problem which forced him to miss five games last month when he was withdrawn during the second-half of United’s defeat at Preston seven days ago.
But Wilder, speaking ahead of this evening’s visit to Villa Park, explained: “George is okay, we just took him off as a precaution. He’s not played much football recently and we couldn’t put too much pressure on him because we don’t want it to go again. That’s why we did what we did, we’ve got to be careful. What I don’t want, because of the situation we’ve got in that position, is to be losing him for a period of matches again.”
With a dislocated knee ruling Kieron Freeman out of action until the New Year, Wilder has cited United’s lack of specialist wing-backs as a factor behind their recent poor form. Having climbed to first in the Championship table after beating Burton Albion a little over four weeks ago, they travel to the Midlands placed sixth and hoping to avoid a fourth straight defeat after also losing to Millwall and Bristol City.
With John Fleck suspended, the return of Mark Duffy and David Brooks represents a welcome boost for Wilder and his staff.
“Mark has trained all week,” he said. “He’s fine and Brooksy was due to train at the end of the week. So both of them should be fine for this one. That’s good.”
With Paul Coutts recently joining Freeman and Ched Evans in the treatment room, Wilder admitted earlier this week that he was contemplating a change of shape in an attempt to reinvigorate United’s season. But he appears to have decided against making a major change following talks with assistant Alan Knill and head of sports science Matt Prestridge.
“I don’t want to change the way we go about things or our outlook,” he said. “There might be a few tweaks but, basically, we want to keep going about things in exactly the same manner because that’s what has got us to where we are now.”