Nottingham Forest v Sheffield United – Patient approach required from Richard Stearman

Sheffield United's Richard Stearman. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Sheffield United's Richard Stearman. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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Richard Stearman would be a first-team regular at most Championship sides.

Unfortunately for the 31-year-old defender, he has been forced to sit on the sidelines at Sheffield United this season with the Blades top of the Championship.

Such has been the form of defensive trio Jack O’Connell, John Egan and Chris Basham, Stearman has started just two games for the league leaders.

He was recalled to the starting XI – his only other start was at QPR in August – for last weekend’s 4-2 win over Wigan Athletic, as record signing Egan missed out with a hamstring injury.

Egan, the £4m summer arrival from Brentford, is due back for today’s trip to Nottingham Forest, but with Basham suspended – after picking up five yellow cards – Stearman looks set to retain his place.

“Looking at it realistically, with the team being top of the league and winning games, it’s hard for a manager to chop and change,” said Stearman.

It’s a mindset in our dressing room. We’re looking at doing bigger and better things than last season and, if we want to do that, then we’re going to need more than the 11 on the pitch.

Sheffield United’s Richard Stearman

“Of course I want to be out there on the pitch but I know the team has been playing well, people in my position are playing well, and John has been brought in for good money.

“So he had to be given the opportunity to play. I’ll be waiting and, hopefully, I’ve taken my chance.

“I like supporting my team, whether I’m starting or not, and I’ll be doing the utmost to help whoever is starting in my position. I think that’s important because we all want the same. We’re a really tight group.

“It’s a mindset in our dressing room. We’re looking at doing bigger and better things than last season and, if we want to do that, then we’re going to need more than the 11 on the pitch.

“If the team is winning, the majority of the boys understand you’ve got to wait for your chance.

“It probably helps with me being a little bit older, having been around the block a bit, because I understand I’ll be called upon and needed at some stage of the season. It keeps you hungry, sharp and focused. That’s the way it should be.”

Stearman certainly has footballing pedigree, his previous clubs include Wolverhampton Wanderers, Fulham and Leicester City – all now plying their trade in the Premier League – and the defender is hoping Chris Wilder’s Blades will join them next season.

“I don’t think the table is lying.” he said. “I think we’ve been very good so far. Hopefully we can continue to hang about there longer than we did last season.”

“First and foremost, I want to win, regardless of styles of play. To be able to be a part of a team with this brand of football is a bonus. The lads are playing such good football.”