Sheffield United: Blades boss prepares for difficult balancing act

Nigel Clough admits he must strike the right balance at Leyton Orient tomorrow  � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Nigel Clough admits he must strike the right balance at Leyton Orient tomorrow � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Nigel Clough has admitted his team selection for tomorrow’s match at Leyton Orient is being complicated by the number of niggling injuries within Sheffield United’s squad, writes James Shield.

Although the visitors’ manager is determined to secure the point which would guarantee top six qualification, he told The Star last night that coaching staff must also guard against the prospect of losing key players for the end of season knockouts.

“If we get one point, the three games at the end of the season become the most important of the last nine months,” Clough said. “We want to take care of our own business but there’s no point in then putting people in who are then out for the play-off games.

“It’s a balancing act. The priority is getting there, first and foremost.

“If we needed four points, it would be a different mindset. But being as close as we are, needing one from two games, bearing in mind the other team need to win both, we have got to have half an eye on it.”

Clough, speaking at the Redtooth Academy earlier this week, confirmed he has discussed the issues which have seen United twice fail to negotiate safe passage through the play-offs since being relegated from the Championship four years ago. Morgan, now a member of the former England international’s backroom staff, was in caretaker charge when they were beaten by Yeovil at the semi-final stage in 2013.

“Morgs has told us the team they went with to Yeovil a couple of years ago. You understand now why it was a struggle down there.

“I think we have got a better squad available than a couple of years ago, but we have still got to keep as many of them as fit and healthy as we can. That’s why we want it sorted before the last game.

“Even though we will have half an eye on it, not risking people in team selection, all our focus will be Orient.”