Sheffield United: Why capturing this man was a real master-stroke

Alan Knill (right) with Chris Wilder. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Alan Knill (right) with Chris Wilder. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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Alan Knill believes Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder performed a master-stroke by signing Jake Wright.

The former Oxford defender, who makes his first return to the Kassam Stadium this evening since moving to Bramall Lane eight months ago, has emerged as a key figure in the side which travelled south last night five points clear at the top of the League One table with 11 games remaining.

Having previously worked with Wilder at Halifax Town before helping him lead Oxford out of the Conference seven years ago, Wright began his third spell under the 49-year-old tutelage after being declared surplus to requirements by Michael Appleton’s side.

Knill, United’s assistant manager, said: “I’ve known him for a while, obviously not as long as Chris, but I have to say he’s been ever better than I thought. Jake probably thought an opportunity, to come to a club like this, would never come for him. But he’s walked in and thought ‘this is it, I’m going to take it.’ He’s a great example to the younger players as well about what it takes to have a career in the game.”

Wright, who made his United debut against Oxford, has become a key figure in the three man rearguard which has proven so successful this term. Yet to taste defeat as a United player, the 30-year-old progressed through the ranks at Bradford City before arriving in South Yorkshire following spells with Crawley Town, Brighton and Hove Albion and tonight’s opponents.

“Jake brings experience, playing with the two younger centre-halves,” Knill, himself a former defender, said. “And in the dressing room he’s really good too. Not only in terms of how he looks after himself, how professional he is, but also in terms of making sure everybody else is properly prepared too.”

Alan Knill, Paul Coutts and Jake Wright (right): Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Alan Knill, Paul Coutts and Jake Wright (right): Simon Bellis/Sportimage