Chris Wilder admits he has “a decision to make” ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Hull City after confirming Simon Moore is available for selection at the KCOM Stadium.
The former Brentford goalkeeper was sent-off towards the end of Sheffield United’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this month but has now completed a three match ban.
But Wilder, speaking at the Steelphalt Academy this morning, admitted Moore’s team mate Jamal Blackman has impressed after stepping into the breach. The youngster, on loan from Chelsea, made a number of key saves during United’s recent victories over Leeds and Queens Park Rangers.
“We’ll make a decision, Jamal is in possession and Simon has to move him out,” Wilder said. “We always wanted that competition in what is a very important position. Jamal is a promising young goalkeeper who has improved here and who will get even better.”
Despite side-stepping a question about whether United will attempt to re-sign Blackman at the end of the season - he agreed a long-term contract with Chelsea before moving to South Yorkshire - Wilder was more forthcoming when asked how his team would approach the meeting with City.
Despite languishing just a above the relegation zone, Wilder said: “There’s consistency in my respect for every club. Hull City, like I said when they came to our place earlier in the season, is a squad full of internationals. If they click and say ‘yes’ then they can win games of football. They have quality and they’ll be fighting for their lives. There’s no complacency from our point if view.”
United, who are seventh in the Championship table with 14 matches remaining, beat City 4-1 at Bramall Lane in November; with Leon Clarke scoring all of their goals. The centre-forward produced another exceptional display during Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Rangers and, despite failing to find the back of the net, caught the eye with his work-rate.
“Leon, the other night, got a brilliant reception at the end,” Wilder said. “The way he ran back to ensure Matt Smith, who is a really dangerous player by the way, didn’t get the ball told you a lot. Our fans are intelligent; they know it’s not just about Cruyff turns and fancy flicks. It’s about the other side of the game as well.”
“The way the supporters have got behind is phenomenal,” he added. “We understand there might be a little bit of nervousness towards the end of games now and we appreciate why. That’s fine.”
City, managed by Wilder’s immediate predecessor Nigel Adkins, are expected to select Seb Larsson after the Swede completed a suspension. But Harry Wilson, on loan from Liverpool, could miss out with a shoulder complaint.
United, who welcome back John Fleck from a ban of his own, were scheduled to assess the fitness of James Wilson (ankle), Ricky Holmes (back) and David Brooks (back) after training today.
“With James, we’ll know more when he’s been in this morning,” Wilder said. “But he’s improving day by day and hopefully he’ll improve over night. The same goes for Ricky and Brooksy although they’ve got slightly different problems. They are the sort of things that can get better really quickly. We’re hoping for some good bits of news.”