Nigel Adkins has appeared to confirm that Jose Baxter is now Sheffield United’s designated penalty-taker after wrestling the responsibility from Billy Sharp.
But Adkins, whose side bowed-out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Fleetwood Town in midweek following a shoot-out, stopped short of giving the midfielder any cast-iron guarantees about the role.
Baxter converted from the spot during Tuesday’s Northern Area quarter-final while Sharp saw his attempt saved and, assessing the situation, Adkins said: “Jose took them in one of our previous games and he was going to stay on them if he was on the pitch. It’s something we always look at and monitor. We know who the penalty-taker is being we go out there for a game. We talk about it but it’s a decision that I make.”
Both Baxter and Sharp, who like Jay McEveley saw his effort palmed away by Fleetwood goalkeeper Chris Maxwell, a former Wales under-21 international, are expected to start tomorrow’s League One fixture against Southend. Adkins’ refusal to guarantee Baxter the position, despite watching him convert two penalties in as many games, could be a ploy to confuse Phil Parkinson’s side should United be awarded a spot-kick. However, Sharp’s chequered record from dead-ball situations has clearly not dented the manager’s confidence in his ability to step-up should the situation demand.
Adkins said: Their goalkeeper made two fantastic saves to deny Billy and Jay. He also made some fantastic ones during the course of the game itself too but we created more than enough to have scored ourselves in the 90 minutes. That’s something we may well be working on, improving that conversion-rate, because the chances and opportunities were certainly there.”