A win would be desirable but, when Sheffield United complete their pre-season programme at Eastleigh this evening, what Chris Wilder really wants is a clean bill of health.
With only eight days to go before the start of the season, Sheffield United’s physiotherapists have been much busier than expected treating the likes of Ched Evans and George Baldock for a variety of complaints.
Although Wilder insists the conditioning of United’s squad has improved since Matt Prestridge’s appointment as head of sports science - “They’re in excellent shape, really, really good.” - the number of impact or unavoidable injuries collected since their visit to Stocksbridge last month is causing him concern.
“We’ve got a few bumps and bruises,” he said. “It’s meant we’ve had to give a few lads a little bit more game-time than we might usually have liked but they’ve just got on with it. It’s not a worry but we don’t want any more.”
With Simon Moore and James Hanson joining Evans and Baldock on the sidelines, United’s are unlikely to make wholesale changes to their starting eleven at The Silverlake Stadium. Nathan Thomas is expected to feature after failing to appear during Tuesday’s win over Stoke City; a result which preserved United’s 100 per cent record in this summer’s friendlies.
“There isn’t a match we don’t take seriously,” Wilder said. “Not one.”