Sheffield United players get chance to rest ahead of Easter Premier League showdown with Leeds United

Paul Heckingbottom has told the majority of his Sheffield United players not to give the club a moment’s thought for the next few days.

Sheffield United interim manager Paul Heckingbottom, right, gives instructions to Rhian Brewster at Stamford Bridge. Picture: John Walton/PA

Lys Mousset was involved in yesterday’s Under-23 game at home to Queens Park Rangers but for many of the squad, the next few days are all about rest and relaxation.

Others will be on international duty, distracting them from the slow march to the Championship.

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Sunday’s FA Cup exit at Chelsea means all the Blades have to look forward to are nine Premier League matches, at least seven behind closed doors, where the best they can probably hope for is to not to finish bottom, with four points to make up on West Bromwich but a huge 14 to safety.

Sheffield United interim manager Paul Heckingbottom: Difficult time for players.

Some will be hoping for transfers to keep them in the division, others are out of contract, and as interim manager Heckingbottom keeps stressing an as-yet unknown new manager will certainly be watching closely, now or retrospectively.

After a traumatic 10 days which brought about the departure of Chris Wilder, not to mention an unforgiving fixture list, they need to freshen up mentally and physically first.

The problems are not going away, with Billy Sharp out for a couple of weeks with a thigh injury and Chris Basham pulled out the night before the Chelsea game after a kick in training failed to heal.

“The majority who aren’t away will get three days off,” said Heckingbottom. “I want them to forget about what’s been a tough few weeks for lots of reasons and come back from fresh.

REST AND RECOVERY: Sheffield United players during a huddle prior to kick-off against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Picture: John Walton/PA

“The focus for me in the short term is trying to get smiles on faces, get a bit of freedom and energy in the place. People can feel sorry for themselves and go into their shell but they need to be the opposite, be accountable, put themselves out there to improve. You can’t just tell someone to have confidence.

“We have seen these players perform at a very high level for many years and now they have to try and get back to that.”

The hope must be the Blades return for their Easter match at Leeds United’s Elland Road with the right mentality.

“You can’t say there’s nothing to lose and be sloppy but the best teams play with a freedom,” stressed Heckingbottom.

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