Bristol City v Sheffield United: Blades stalwart Chris Basham reveals Gary Speed inspiration

CHRIS BASHAM is someone who is never short of inspiration.

The sort of humble professional and team player on whom all successful dressing rooms are built around, the ambition of the Sheffield United stalwart is burning as brightly as it has ever done at the age of 34.

Memories of a former Blades manager and class act in the shape of the late, great Gary Speed fortify it. Memories of some dear times in that unforgettable promotion campaign of 2018-19 also inspire him.

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Basham, closing in on 500 games as a professional, said: "It takes its toll playing three a week at 34, but I don't want to miss games; as long as you're smiling and happy to help the team. Getting back to the Premier League would be fantastic.

Chris Basham.Chris Basham.
Chris Basham.

"The great Gary Speed said back in the day if you can get to 500, you've had a great career. A lot of those are for the Blades and there are a lot of good ones, so long may it continue.

"To have the young lads with us, I sat with James McAtee and told him what it was like to have an open top tour. Lads like Iliman (Ndiaye) deserve that.

"My drive is there, 100 per cent, to keep impressing and driving forward and pulling the lads along with us. Maybe I'd be on the staff if we get in the Premier League! But I enjoy playing and training so hopefully there's a long way to go yet."

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Part of being a successful player is reacting to disappointment.

Basham had one such dark moment late on in the recent loss at Coventry when he conceded a costly penalty which was converted his fellow north-easterner Martyn Waghorn in a 1-0 loss on October 19.

The defender had a better time of it in the Midlands at West Brom on Saturday, playing his part in a 2-0 victory for the Blades, their first win in seven matches.

Quick to praise manager Paul Heckingbottom for sticking by him, he said: "I've played 350-odd games (for United) and when you make a mistake like that, it's not nice.

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"The wife will tell you I don't speak to her for a couple of games but there's always a chance to put things right. The manager kept belief in me, he could have pulled me out but he believes in me and that's great for me.

“He's got great belief, you can see with the lads he's bringing through; he's not scared to put them in."

Heckingbottom must make do without suspended defender Anel Ahmedhodzic at Ashton Gate, but Wes Foderingham is available again after a three-match ban.

Ciaran Clark also returns to the fray.

Meanwhile, Heckingbottom has confirmed that the club are talking with star turn Iliman Ndiaye over a new deal, but admits that the situation is not simple.

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The Senegalese international's current deal runs until 2024.

Heckingbottom commented: "Everyone's got to want it to happen.

"Conversations are ongoing and it's not simple, I wouldn't expect anything to be done soon."

Last six: Bristol City LWLWLD; Sheffield United LLDLDW.

Referee: S Martin (Staffs).

Last time: Bristol City 1 Sheffield United 1, April 18, 2022; Championship.