Sheffield United players facing season-ending injuries compound boss frustration

Chris Wilder adds to Sheffield United’s misery following their 5-0 loss to Brighton by confirming further serious injury news.

Following the confirmation by Blades manager Chris Wilder that two more Sheffield United players’ seasons had ended due to injuries, their futures are now uncertain. Max Lowe and Rhys Norrington-Davies both experienced hamstring injuries six weeks into their comeback from a 14-month absence, which will prevent them from playing again this season.

An additional ankle ligament injury sustained at Luton Town last weekend has also prematurely ended Lowe’s season and will require another operation. The former Derby defender hurt his ankle when standing on a sprinkler at Pride Park during the preseason, and he has already had surgery this season.

Even though Luke Thomas’s return to Leicester during the most recent transfer window leaves Yasser Larouci, a loanee, as the team’s only committed left wing-back, both absences are major setbacks for United and may have an impact on either player’s future at Bramall Lane. Both have contracts expiring in the summer, and Wilder has cautioned that availability—rather than sentiment—will be a major factor in whether or not new deals are offered.

Mason Holgate, a loanee, was sent off in the 13th minute of Saturday’s 5-0 loss at home against Brighton and Hove Albion for a tackle that will keep him out of the team’s next games against Wolves, Arsenal, and Bournemouth. “The availability of the players over quite a long period has not been great and it affects everything,” Wilder said prior to the match.

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From a coaching perspective, it impacts your ability to be consistent, maintain continuity, choose your squad, make adjustments, rest players, and establish any kind of rhythm. It’s the most important issue, and I’ve told the board that we must need players that are available for the upcoming season, regardless of the division we play in. And in the process, you inevitably have to choose players, so we also have to be careful to get it right.”

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With Larouci playing only a bit-part role since his summer loan move from Troyes, Ben Osborn is likely to fill in as an auxilary left wing-back while the Frenchman builds his fitness. Auston Trusty has also played at left-back while United have operated with a back four, but the last two games – victory at Luton and defeat at home to Brighton – have seen a return to a more familiar 3-5-2 for United.

“I don’t like the decisions I have to make when I lose Lowey and Rhys Norrington-Davies for the season,” Wilder added. “These are things that are hurting us and have hurt the club over the last two or three years.”

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Ben Brereton Diaz is still out with a hamstring injury, and Cameron Archer, a goal scorer for Luton, missed the match against Brighton due to a calf injury. Oli McBurnie returned to the bench over the weekend, but he was only able to play 10 minutes, meaning that United was already well beaten.

“On Thursday and Friday, Cameron worked out and felt fine; nevertheless, his calf cramped up. A very little strain and a tight calf,” stated Wilder. “After he hobbled out of the final training session on Saturday morning, we made a change to the team. That’s why it’s so disappointing.

Ben wasn’t really close. We’ll evaluate him and Oli together this week. The challenging issue is that we’re looking at players who can only play a certain amount of minutes and we’re having to make physical replacements. He had ten minutes in the locker room, but I wanted him around and would have thrown him on for the final ten minutes.

“With few spaces, it can be challenging to accomplish that. You’re replacing physical components instead than making tactical choices. which is the worst part about it in the eyes of managers.”

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