Both Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder and Leonid Slutsky, his Hull City counterpart, are facing selection issues ahead of today’s Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.
With goalkeeper Jamal Blackman already expected to miss the fixture through injury, United’s George Baldock was last night being given every opportunity to prove his fitness following a hamstring complaint.
Wilder, who is already without fellow wing-back Kieron Freeman (shoulder), has placed centre-half Chris Basham on stand-by to deputise for Baldock if the summer signing from MK Dons fails to recover in time. That could signal the return of either Richard Stearman or Jake Wright to the starting eleven after they failed to appear against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday.
“George has trained and so we’ll see how he is,” Wilder said. “We’ll see what happens after the sessions. Bash can step across. He’s played that position before and, to be fair to him, he’s willing to play anywhere if it helps the team.”
Although Baldock’s predicament is a concern, United’s problems pale into insignificance to those confronting City. Michael Hector, on loan from Chelsea, is unavailable due to suspension after being dismissed during their midweek defeat to Middlesbrough while, like Baldock, fellow centre-half Ondrej Mazuch is nursing a hamstring injury. That leaves Michael Dawson and Fikayo Tomori as the only pairing available to Slutsky who withdrew Brian Lenihan and Josh Clackstone from the City under-21 squad which faced Brighton and Hove Albion in the Premier League Cup last night.
Lenihan, aged 23, and 21-year-old Clackstone have made a combined total of two appearances for the visitors so far this term.