Sheffield United: Clough vows to continue rotating his Blades squad

Kieron Freeman
Kieron Freeman

He may not quite be on ‘Tinkerman’ Claudio Ranieri’s level but Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has vowed to carry on rotating his Blades squad as they continue to chase promotion to the Championship this term.

Clough made three changes to his side on Tuesday as they triumphed 2-1 at Rochdale, to extend their unbeaten run to five games; Ryan Flynn returned after an injury lay-off, Terry Kennedy was handed a deserved recall and Matty Done was rested.

United celebrate John Brayford's second goal

United celebrate John Brayford's second goal

His replacement Marc McNulty scored the game’s opening goal before being replaced by Done at half-time, and is a doubt for Saturday’s trip to Crawley after picking up a shin injury.

“It was good to give Matty a rest because he was carrying a few knocks,” said Clough, who has seen his deadline-day signing from Rochdale net four goals in his first five United outings.

“We’ve stressed all along that this is a squad game and we will utilise the players we have.

“There will be no 11 or 12 players who see it through to the end of the season; when we need one or two lads to come in, they’ve got to be ready.

“We’ve seen that with the likes of Iain Turner and Kieron Freeman recently, and Flynny hasn’t played for a few weeks but he came on and gave us a good 70 minutes.

“Kieron, too, after a good cameo on Saturday [in a 2-2 draw with Coventry], came on and did well.

“The beauty with him is that he can do a job in a number of positions; he’s a full back by trade, but has shown his ability in wide midfield in the last two games.

“He’s more of an attacking full-back anyway - he’s not too defensively minded but he’s been ready and he’s done his job. That’s all we ever ask of the lads... to do their jobs.”

Victory at Spotland sees United remain fifth in the League One table, ten points behind second-placed MK Dons.

But midweek wins for fellow promotion hopefuls Swindon, Bristol City and Preston denied Clough the chance to eat up more ground on the league’s top two.

“There’s pressure on us every game now,” Clough admitted.

“We expected those around us to win tonight but not many will have had a harder game than we have, at Rochdale.

“All we can do is concentrate on ourselves and now we’ve won our last three away games with seven games scored, which is brilliant.

“Our support was excellent once again and it was nice to be able to reward them with a committed display, two goals and three points.”