Out-of-favour Chris Basham hoping to extend his playing days at Sheffield United

Time has moved on at Sheffield United this season and Chris Basham is fighting to show he is still relevant so he can continue to enjoy occasions like the one he is looking forward to at Oakwell tomorrow.

One of the compensations of relegation to the Championship is it offers so many more supporters the chance to follow their team away from home.

As Barnsley is this season’s nearest fixture and with its West Stand closed to all but journalists, the noise as the players emerge from the tunnel between it and the away end will be music to Sheffield United ears, especially 33-year-old Basham’s, who feels more love from the terraces than at any time during his seven years at the club, even if it is not reflected on the team-sheet.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“It’s always a fantastic atmosphere at Barnsley,” he says. “There’s a great opportunity for the fans. After a game on the bus, people are always saying how much they’ve missed the fans.

Sheffield United defender Chris Basham. Picture: Darren Staples / Sportimage

“When I’ve been playing every game the last seven years I’ve not really heard them chant my name. Now they do when I’m coming on and warming up. It makes me feel great and loved. They will always be close to my heart.”

There could soon be a separation. Basham’s contract is up in the summer and he has been the big victim of the switch from the back-three formation he was so emblematic of to 4-2-3-1. He has not started a game since the side was transformed at the end of August.

Basham is determined to remain an important figure.

“I’ve got a plus-one,” he says of his contract, meaning an option for it to be extended by 12 months. “I need to make (a certain number of) appearances. If those don’t happen it’s up to the club. If I’m not playing then I can’t see the club wanting me. (And) I want to play.”

He is very conscious of the need to be professional, and maintain the good things about United manager Slavisa Jokanovic is keen to preserve.

“The most important thing from the manager’s point of view is you don’t show frustration if you’re not involved,” says Basham.

“He knows I’ll give everything in the dressing room.

“Before a game, I’ll have a little chat.

“We’ve had a lot of change (this season). There’s been change at the training ground, there’s a young bunch coming through – Iliman (Ndiaye) and Kacper (Lopata).

“There’s a lot of expectation, a different expectation to what we’ve had since leaving League One.

“The manager wants to carry on progressing, and he’s got a great staff around him. He’s just getting the final touches right.”

If Basham is the symbol of the Chris Wilder years that took the club from League One to the top-flight, there is no bitterness towards the new broom. He is too good a team man – too good a man – for that.

“He keeps in contact with me,” says Basham of Jokanovic. “He wants to chat with us and it’s nice to know he’s happy to do that.

“It’s definitely different for me – before a game and afterwards. I’ve not done running after a game for years and years.

“It’s been enjoyable being in these surroundings.”

So enjoyable, he really does not want to leave.