Paul Heckingbottom confident Sander Berge's Sheffield United career is not over yet

Paul Heckingbottom is confident Sander Berge has not played his last game for Sheffield United.

The Norwegian midfielder picked up a tendon injury in December which required surgery, and has not featured since.

Having joined from a Champions League club – Belgian side Genk – in January 2020, it would be a surprise if a player of his quality was playing in the Championship next season but Heckingbottom is confident he will feature in some of the Blades' six remaining Premier League games. Their relegation was confirmed at the weekend but Heckingbottom is wary of his players thinking they have nothing to lose in the run-in.

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With Chris Basham still out, Heckingbottom takes the same squad to Wolverhampton Wanderers but Berge and Jack Robinson are closer to returns.

INJURED: Sander Berge has not been seen in Sheffield United colours since December

“We'll be similar to the last game in terms of personnel available,” said the interim manager.

“We've got Robbo back training, which has been good for us and him. He's had a few days with us.

“He's been out quite a long period of time and he's a little bit behind Sander, who's getting more training games.”

Asked if he thought Berge would play again this season, Heckingbottom replied: “Yeah, I do. When that is will be led by him, his rehab and the medical team. I've been really pleased with him, he's pleased.

“He's been making strides every day, it's just pushing him now for the length of time he's been out but he's been working hard enough to make the necessary improvements. We know he's going to be behind in terms of game-time and how comfortable he is on the pitch if and when he does get on there but he's working towards that and I'm confident we'll get him out there.”

Sometimes relegated teams can pull off a surprise win once their fate is sealed whereas others – such as Norwich City last season – do not pick up another point.

“There's no noose around anyone's neck now in terms of being scared – it's done, it's gone,” said Heckingbottom. “It's got to be about looking forwards not only for this season but next.

“Our fate's sealed, people can stop talking about it, we know it's done, but I don't like the phrase nothing to lose. That can sometimes be construed as it doesn't matter any more.

“That's what I don't want to see and I don't want any talk of that from anyone.

“Yeah, the pressure's off, we know our fate, but it probably matters more now than most because we have to start looking forward. We have to start levelling out, bottoming out and getting ready to go next season.

“The bigger picture, you're playing for careers, you're always getting judged. We have to keep stressing that. We understand that.

“Subconsciously it is difficult. There will be no one taking their foot off the gas at all but subconsciously there is a little change. We're hoping that subconscious switch is a positive one in terms of a little bit more freedom because what's the worst that can happen? We've gone down.

“We'll keep playing forwards, running forwards, be positive and try to pick up three points. That's all we're in charge of now, how we look and how we behave in the last six games.”

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