Queens Park Rangers v Sheffield United: Oli McBurnie on the mend in positive injury bulletin

Injury bulletins have been an important feature of Sheffield United's pre-match press conferences but 2023 has started with a twist – some positive news!

The Blades head to Queens Park Rangers on Monday with things very definitely going their way at the moment, 11 points clear of the play-off places after eight wins in the last nine matches.

This being the Championship, you cannot bank on anything – few saw the one defeat in the sequence, at home to Rotherham United coming – but now even the injury situation looks more positive.

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So often this season, the casualties have run into double figures with numbers that would break a squad without the Blades' formidable depth.

CLOSE TO A RETURN? Sheffield United striker Oliver McBurnieCLOSE TO A RETURN? Sheffield United striker Oliver McBurnie
CLOSE TO A RETURN? Sheffield United striker Oliver McBurnie

But fit-again wing-backs Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle have both been dipped into festive football to top up their match-fitness and although the treatment room is far from clear, there could be a key figure back at Loftus Road.

"Maybe Oli (McBurnie)," suggested Paul Heckingbottom, after the striker picked up an ankle problem on his return from hernia surgery.

"Ozzy (Ben Osborn) is progressing but we want to make sure we get it right, for him and for us.

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"It's no coincidence that he came back into the team when we were short and went game, game, game, game. He reached big physical outputs but everyone did well, we caught it at the right time. So it's just a case of getting the load and the work into him and making sure that when he comes back, he'll sustain that.

UNCERTAIN FUTURE: On-loan Sheffield United forward Reda KhadraUNCERTAIN FUTURE: On-loan Sheffield United forward Reda Khadra
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: On-loan Sheffield United forward Reda Khadra

"I feel for him because he was just making his way back into the team. And we've got more players coming back.

"Rhian (Brewster) and Rhys (Norringthon-Davies), I see them every day and have a chat with them every day. They're further down the line.

"Izzy (Ismaila Coulibaly)'s back on the grass, we want to keep him training regularly before we start exposing him to game-time. And Flecky (John Fleck) similar. He's not on the grass yet, it's step by step with him. But, again, another good player for us to have back."

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And Bogle was full of praise for the contribution made by a player who has not played for 27 months.

Jack O'Connell is still to return from knee surgery in 2020, but playing an important part at Shirecliffe.

Bogle's knee operation was not in the same league, but his appearance at Blackpool was only his third since February after suffering a setback on his October return.

“Even when I was feeling a bit down, when things were quite difficult, Jack was always there telling me ‘Come on, you can do this. If you do these things then you’ll get back out there much quicker,” said Bogle.

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“He’s been brilliant with me and all of the rest of the lads as well. Unfortunately for him, he understands what we’re going through and how it can play on your mind when you’re not involved.

"I can’t thank him and the rest of the people who helped me enough. All of the rest of the boys were really good with me as well, making sure I was feeling okay.”

One area where the Blades squad could soon become lighter is up front with Reda Khadra left out of the squad completely for Thursday’s 2-1 win at Blackpool.

The German Under-21 international is on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion, who may choose to recall him this month and move him to another club able to offer more regular football.

Last six games: Queens Park Rangers LDWLLL; Sheffield United WWWWWL

Referee: J Smith (Lincolnshire)

Last time: Queens Park Rangers 1 Sheffield United 3, April 29, 2022, Championship