Adkins set to make tough calls on Blades’ depth

Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins.
Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins.
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Nigel Adkins is prepared to be ruthless in cutting down Sheffield United’s bulging squad.

The Blades have been hampered all season by a mountain of injuries, but with the likes of John Brayford, Bob Harris and Ryan Flynn all closing in on returns to first-team duty, there will come a time to trim the squad.

Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins (Picture: Martyn Harrison).

Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins (Picture: Martyn Harrison).

Adkins admits there are too many players on the books at Bramall Lane, and several will follow striker Michael Higdon in being allowed to leave on loan.

“You’ve got to make tough decisions and that’s what I’ll do,” he said. “I’ve never shied away from those.

“All the players realise that I’ll be honest with them. Everyone wants to play all the time, but the fact is, when everyone is fit, we have got too many players.

“Competition for places is always good, it’s always healthy, but I’m the one who’s going to have to come to those decisions.”

Having the luxury of leaving fit players watching from the Bramall Lane stands will be a welcome tonic for Adkins after some testing times.

“Every week, more or less, we’ve just had the starting XI and the seven for the bench available,” he said. “How many times have we been able to say there are players sat in the stands who are ready to play?

“Likewise, there has to be people ready to come in and take the shirts. The most important thing, though, is doing what’s right by Sheffield United – the club is bigger than anything or anyone else.”

Tomorrow, United host Millwall and Adkins is predicting another battle after seeing off Fleetwood Town 3-0 in midweek.

“Millwall, we’ve watched them on the videos, and it looks like being a really tough game,” he said.

“So far, they’ve kept two really solid banks of four, they don’t give many opportunities away and they are very good on set-plays defensively.

“We’re scoring goals, which is important, but we need to be really on it every weekend.

“These could be difficult opponents to break down.

“Fleetwood, for example, had a very narrow ‘three’ in midfield so they were hard to break down.

“You’ve got to give them a big amount of credit for the way they did that.

“But, equally, we controlled the game well, kept good possession of the football and didn’t just give it up for the sake of it.”