Sheffield United boss not looking beyond Yorkshre derby with Leeds United

With their relegation all but assured, the last phase of Sheffield United’s season is more about preparing for life back in the Championship, but interim manager Paul Heckingbottom insists he cannot afford to think beyond tomorrow’s trip to his former club Leeds United.

Heckingbottom, who managed Leeds for 16 games in 2018, is due to return to his job as the Under-23 manager this summer.

“If anyone asks me a question about Sheffield United I’ll give them my answer based on what’s right for the club,” he explained. “If I owned a football club every employee would be expected to behave that way.

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“My focus is on Leeds United then it will shift. It’s on these next eight games, the players I’m working with, that’s it.

Paul Heckingbottom interim manager of Sheffield Utd. Picture: David Klein/Sportimage

“I’m still working closely with Jack (Lester) over the academy and the future of the (under-) 23s and teams below that, but it’s short-term, it’s about getting as much as we can out of these last eight games and as much information as I can to pass onto the relevant people next season.”

He will have Enda Stevens available tomorrow despite returning early from international duty, but the Blades have not yet got to the bottom of the knock Chris Basham picked up before the game against Chelsea, and Sander Berge is “weeks away” from full training. John Egan is back, but his fitness will need to be built up.

Meanwhile, the Blades posted a £17.5m profit despite the Covid-19 pandemic. By delaying the accounting period until July 31, 2020, it encompassed the whole of last season and the purchase of Bramall Lane and other properties from previous owner Kevin McCabe.

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