Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom on George Baldock, Conor Hourihane and rest and recovery

Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Sportimage.Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Sportimage.
Paul Heckingbottom. Picture: Sportimage.
SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Paul Heckingbottom says that wing-back George Baldock is in the mix to face Championship play-off rivals Nottingham Forest on Friday.

Baldock suffered a bang on his knee in last weekend's 1-0 loss at Millwall and left the New Den with an ice pack on his knee.

But after a few days rest, Baldock returned to training on Wednesday ahead of Friday's game with Forest and Heckingbottom expects him to be available.

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Conor Hourihane, who has been managing another slight issue, is also in the reckoning.

Heckingbottom said: "We are not being overly cautious with him (Baldock), but we just want to give him the chance to play. Obviously, we want him fit and available, so hopefully he will be okay.

"We have done everything we can after the game and had a couple more days and had the Sunday off and trained Monday and had Tuesday off. He didn't train on Monday and hopefully, we have done the right things with him.

"We have done with Conor and again, he has been on the grass, so hopefully - touch wood - those lighter three days have allowed a couple more bodies to recover and refresh."

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A break in United's midweek schedule has provided some welcome rest and recuperation time for Heckingbottom's side, who have been playing catch-up in terms of fulfilling their commitments after a raft of Covid postponements in mid-winter.

Last Saturday's game at Millwall was the Blades' seventh game in 22 days in February and Friday's home match with Forest is the start of a run of five matches in 15 days before the next international break.

After Forest - two points and places behind United - Heckingbottom's side host another play-off rival in Middlesbrough before visiting another team in the mix in Coventry City.

On a six-day break, Heckingbottom said: "It is not really enough time to physically rest. But we have certainly tried to use it and how we have tried to use it is psychologically.

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"We have just come off the players a little bit in terms of mine and the staff's approach with them. It was just to get them away with their families on Sunday and then come in and have a good, fun day on Monday and not thinking about football or Millwall or Nottingham Forest.

"We had another day off on Tuesday and got straight back into the routine today and hopefully, everyone feels that little bit recharged and ready to go."