Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom excited how Oli McBurnie and Anel Ahmedhodzic can raise sub standards
The Blades manager says both are fit to start – but would not been drawn on whether they could also finish – the game against a relegation rival who, like them, kick-started their season before the international break. Given the importance of striker McBurnie and centre-back Ahmedhodzic, it would be a shock if they did not.
But what Heckingbottom liked most about the win against Wolverhampton Wanderers and the draw at Brighton and Hove Albion they followed it up with was how strongly his players finished both, and he thinks the pair could help that too.
“They've been big for us, Anel in the last 18 months, Oli the last couple of years,” said Heckingbottom.
“I'd love everyone fit and available, it's no disrespect but we're getting to 60 minutes and I'm looking round and at depths of squads other managers have had and we've not been able to do it (match the quality of the opposition’s changes).
“But with those back, and if we can get a couple more back, our bench is really competitive and when we're making subs, we're having a bigger impact on the game.”
Although the international break disrupted the Blades’ momentum – and Bournemouth's, after beating Newcastle United – Heckingbottom stressed the positives.
Whilst McBurnie and Ahmedhodzic have been getting fitter, Vinicius Souza, Jayden Bogle and James McAtee shook off minor problems picked up at Brighton.
“Vini's fine, Jayden's still carrying a minor thing we're trying to manage,” said Heckingbottom. “He's been training great, and he arguably finished the game stronger than he started it at Brighton.
“It was cramp when (McAtee) came off, he got cramp when he was away on international duty as well (with England Under-21s) but he's fine and back training.”
No other players are close to returning from injury.