SHEFFIELD United manager Chris Wilder has hailed the contribution of record-equalling Billy Sharp and warned Championship promotion rivals that his captain will continue to fire on all cylinders in 2019.
Sharp’s brace against Blackburn Rovers, in a game where both sides had a man dismissed, set up a 3-0 victory that moves the Blades to within four points of an automatic promotion place.
In doing so, Sharp became the highest English league goal-scorer this century alongside former Southampton team-match Rickie Lambert on 219.
Wilder enthused: “Brilliant. You don’t back against him and he has four against Blackburn this season.
“They will be glad to see the back of him and there is much more to come from Billy in the second half of the season.
“Even if we can add at the top of the pitch (with signings in the transfer window) he will still be wanting to start and fight everybody off.
He has that tag of a local lad and has had to do it the hard way. He had to go away for his career but he has come back and been outstanding for me. His record speaks for itself since I have been here on and off the pitch.Chris Wilder on Billy Sharp
“He has that tag of a local lad and has had to do it the hard way. He had to go away for his career but he has come back and been outstanding for me.
“His record speaks for itself since I have been here on and off the pitch. What has Billy Sharp done for himself and this football club? That is the question you should ask and not ‘what have we done for him?’
“We have put him in the team and played two up front. He looks as fit as a fiddle and has been outstanding as a leader of the players, out there scoring goals.”
Sharp struck in the 73rd and 77th minutes after former Rotherham United midfield man Richie Smallwood was shown a straight red for a high challenge on the Blades captain.
The Blades had lost central defender Chris Basham 20 minutes earlier when he handled as Charlie Mulgrew fired a free-kick into the defensive wall, having been shown a ninth-minute yellow for a ball-winning challenge on Harrison Reed.
Wilder said: “It’s a physical game and players have to expect contact. Basham’s tackle was a great one and he was unfortunate with the second one.”
Of the victory, he said: “That is right up there. Compliment to the way the opposition attacked it in the first half. They freshened it up and made it a bit of a grind for us. For 45 minutes, they were as good a team as has been at Bramall Lane this season. We found it a bit of a struggle. When we went down to 10 men no-one would have seen the result that was coming.
“The organisation and discipline of the players was great. When it went to 10 v 10, the ruthlessness of the play was very clinical and the support when we needed it gave us that lift and energy. When it went to 10 v 10, there was only one winner.”
Match report: Page 4