Billy Sharp admits Sheffield United are 'missing the edge we had'

Billy Sharp says Sheffield United have “lost their edge” since the restart, and manager Chris Wilder has taken the unusual step of giving them 48 hours off to find it.

EDGE: Billy Sharp admits there has been something missing from Sheffield United's play since the coronavirus restart

The Blades go into an FA Cup quarter-final at home to Arsenal on Sunday a long way off the performance levels they were producing when English football was put on hold for the coronavirus in March.

Even without fans there, captain Sharp is hoping returning to Bramall Lane after three consecutive behind-closed-doors away matches lifts his side.

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“I think we're missing the edge we had,” said the centre-forward.

“We're a team that thrive off opposition fans, and more importantly our fans backing us but it's the same for both teams. We haven't quite adapted to it as well as we should have done. We'll keep working on the training ground, keep our heads held high, stick together and go again.

“I don't think it's because we're unfit. We've work really hard in the break we've had, we've trained really well when we've been back. We've had a couple of injuries and suspensions and the team's changed a little bit but we've got a good enough squad to make changes and for for one reason or another we've lost that edge and it's something we need to get back really quickly.

“We thrive off the fans but we haven't got any fans for the remaining games so can't just lie down and not fight.

“We're not too far off, we just need a couple of decisions going our way and more importantly we need to be competing a lot more throughout the 90 minutes, not just in spells. We seem to have games where we're sloppy or we're not quite at it and other teams take advantage of it. If you do that against teams like Man United, they're going to punish you.

“I'm hoping being at Bramall Lane will be of benefit to us. It would have been some atmosphere (if fans had been allowed in) but we need to create the tempo we can play at. We haven't really competed but there is no excuse for that.

“As the gaffer always says, if the other team is better than us, so be it. We can go out the front door, but that's the bit he's not happy with at the moment.

“I'm hoping the familiar surroundings will be good for us. Hopefully it will kickstart our season and we can get through to the semi-final.”

The Blades drew 0-0 at Aston Villa, although they had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside, and suffered 3-0 defeat at Newcastle United and Manchester United. After that, Wilder gave his side some time off.

“I've given them a couple of days off because I think that was the right thing to do,” he explained. “They have hardly had any off because of the schedule.

“They looked quite tired physically and everyone in sport will know when you are not playing well there is a drain on you mentally.

“They are honest professionals so they will have done what they needed to do away from the football club and refreshed themselves.

“I will be clear in my message to them in the lead up to the game against Arsenal and pick the best team to get us a result.”

Centre-back Jack O'Connell, who has gone from playing every minute in the Premier League before the lay-off to none since, will be assessed in the build-up to see if he can return, but there are no fresh injury concerns.

Jon Egan, suspended at Old Trafford, and Dean Henderson, ineligible because he is on loan from Manchester United, will be available.

Meanwhile, the club have confirmed that, as expected, Phil Jagielka, Kieron Freeman, Jack Rodwell and Leon Clarke have signed contract extensions to allow them to complete the season with the Blades.

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