‘Huge gap’ for Sheffield United and Slavisa Jokanovic to bridge

SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Slavisa Jokanovic accepts that his side have made an unsatisfactory start to 2021-22 – and must make significant improvements to improve their promotion prospects.

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Slavisa Jokanovic's pep talk to Sheffield United striker Rhian Brewster after di...

United resume after the international break at home to Stoke City on Saturday, with the Bramall Lane outfit currently closer to the Championship relegation zone than the top six.

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With just 11 games gone, time remains on the side of the 14th-placed Blades, undergoing a make-over in their playing style.

Slavisa Jokanovic, manager of Sheffield United. Picture: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

But while the Serb acknowledges that fact, he is anxious to witness more sustained progress in the weeks ahead.

He said: “We clearly know we can do better than we are doing right now and we are not satisfied with our start. But we are in some kind of change and are trying something different than before.

“We need to improve ourselves in different ways. We need to create more and be more clinical in the box. We are a Championship team and there is a huge gap to improve for us.

“People are focused and serious, they trust in the way we want to go about things, and they trust we will find more benefit from it.

“What is the final target? Everyone knows it, all the board and players and fans and me too. I try and focus on my work and my life and think about the next step as the most important step of my life. We will see where we are in April and May when it comes.”

Meanwhile, Jokanovic has voiced his pride at seeing key defender John Egan captain the Republic of Ireland in the international break, while providing a caveat at his extended game time.

Cork-born Egan, 28, filled in as captain for the injured Seamus Coleman in last Saturday’s World Cup qualifier in Azerbaijan and in Tuesday’s friendly against Qatar in Dublin.

Jokanovic added: “I prefer John would have played a little bit less as he played all the games with me. In the last two international breaks, there has been no break for him and he has played five games – and 90 minutes in all the games.

“But on another side, of course we need – and he needs – to be proud of captaining his international team.

“John is an experienced guy with a lot of knowledge, personality and character and if they choose him to be skipper, that is the reason for this choice.”