Sheffield United: Paul Heckingbottom insists ‘we’ll not shirk it’

Nathan Jones called Sheffield United’s squad “arguably the best in the Championship” but manager Paul Heckingbottom is determined to add to it in the final week of the transfer window.

Jack Robinson of Sheffield United celebrates after scoring the second goal against Luton. Picture: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
Jack Robinson of Sheffield United celebrates after scoring the second goal against Luton. Picture: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

The Blades’ only dealings in this window have been out so far, with Robin Olsen recalled from his loan so he could join Aston Villa, fellow goalkeeper Michael Verrips joining Fortuna Sittard and forward Oli Burke to Millwall, both on loan.

Stoke City manager Michael O’Neill confirmed Adam Davies, Heckingbottom’s goalkeeper when he was manager of Barnsley, was having a medical at Sheffield United and the Blades are also looking for another centre-back option after missing out on John Souttar, who has signed a pre-contract agreement with Rangers.

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“I believe in these players,” said Heckingbottom after Saturday’s 2-0 win over Jones’s Luton. “They’ve come under criticism last season and when I took over again this season but we’ll not shirk it and I’ll not let the players shirk it. We’ll step up and give our best. That’s all we can do.

“We fight, we’ll try and win games and do the best we can.”

The Blades had a very strong bench on Saturday, with George Baldock, John Fleck, Sander Berge, Oli McBurnie and David McGoldrick – all key players in the club’s ninth-place Premier League finish in 2019-20 alongside youngsters Jake Eastwood and Kyron Gordon.

That they still have lots of important players missing suggests Jones’s comments were perhaps not just an attempt to soften the blow of his side being comprehensively outplayed in the first game at Bramall Lane for 55 days.

“We seem to be having two back, two out, that type of thing,” said Heckingbottom.

“We’ve got Ben (Davies) coming back but lost Ben (Osborn), Enda (Stevens), then Freezy (Luke Freeman). 
We’ve still got lots we want back, we need more in terms of the squad, we want them all fit, firing and healthy but as we’ve shown when one’s out it’s an opportunity for someone else and then they step up and they’ve got to take their place.”