John Egan says Sheffield United cannot use pandemic or pingdemic as excuses as he looks forward to new season

John Egan says Sheffield United cannot use their disrupted pre-season when they kick off life back in the Championship at home to Birmingham City on Saturday night.

Preparation for the game has been far from ideal for a club with a new manager trying to implement different ideals.

A couple of Covid-19 cases on the pre-season trip to Spain forced the entire first-team to isolate for 10 days, and the final scheduled friendly, which would only have been their third, was cancelled at short notice when opponents Norwich City had similar problems.

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On top of that the Blades are yet to bring in any new signings and there has been constant speculation about the futures of Aaron Ramsdale, Sander Berge and George Baldock in particular but at least they all remain at the club.

NO EXCUSES: Sheffield United centre-back John Egan

As centre-back Egan points out, the problems of the pandemic and the "pingdemic" are not unique to his club, and he thinks the chance to play in front of 30,000 Sheffield United fans for the first time since March 7, 2020, will offset some of their problems.

"When you look around and see different bits of news and lots of teams forced into isolation, the league comes on your very quickly," he commented.

"No matter how your preparation is, with the fans back that's an added bonus. But no matter how your preparation goes, the manager (Slavisa Jokanovic) and the staff have made sure we're as ready as we can be for Saturday night.

"We're looking forward to the start of the season. We've trained well, we've got two friendlies under our belt and we're going into Saturday full of desire to go out and do well for the football club.

"It's a different game when the stadiums are packed out. Even in pre-season at Doncaster when our away fans packed out the away end it was a special feeling.

"When the fans are robbed of that for so long I'm sure they can't wait to get back in and we've been robbed as players too because the atmosphere at Bramall Lane is top notch."

The Republic of Ireland international is also unconcerned by the thought there could be a hangover after last season's dismal relegation from the Premier League.

"When you do get relegated confidence is low but you can't afford to be thinking about it too much," he argued. "You go into the summer, you switch off and you come back ready to go.

"We've had a new manager this season and it's been exciting to work with him. He's put new ideas across day in, day out.

"It's a new start for everyone and we're just looking forward to starting the season."