Sheffield United: Will Chris Wilder juggle his attack as striker closes in on return?

Sheffield United will monitor Caolan Lavery’s fitness before naming their squad for this weekend’s game against Port Vale.

The centre-forward has missed United’s last two games after damaging an ankle during the recent victory over Bristol Rovers. But, barring a late set-back or change of heart, Chris Wilder is expected to name him in the team which faces Bruno Ribero’s team on Saturday.

“We’ll be using the break in the fixtures to try and work on a few things,” Wilder, the United manager, said. “Including getting some of the lads who have been out or carrying knocks back up to speed.

“You always pick up bumps and bruises throughout the season, not just towards the end, especially because of the way we train and work. But it’s something you just deal with because, hopefully, the result is worth it in the end.”

Although Lavery is likely to start on the bench, his return could tempt Wilder to begin rotating his attack after expressing concerns about the workload being placed on Billy Sharp and Matt Done in recent weeks. Chris Basham’s imminent availability following suspension means coaching staff must also decide whether to adjust United’s midfield despite John Fleck’s impressive displays since stepping into the breach.

United, whose game with Walsall last weekend was postponed due to international call-ups, were beaten by Jon Whitney’s team in the Checkatrade Trophy last week. Fleck was one of the few players who escaped Wilder’s wrath following what he admitted was a below par performance. Basham will be eligible to face Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday.

“There were no bright spots for me,” Wilder said. “There were mistakes for the goals and, if anyone has made a mistake recently, someone has been there to clean it up. You can’t make two mistakes on a pitch, never mind three which we did for one of the ones we let in.

“Mooro (Simon Moore), Basham and Fleck did okay. Done ran about but, after that, there wasn’t a lot to get excited about or real bright spots for me.”