Chris Wilder has described Billy Sharp as the best player in League One after Bolton Wanderers’ Gary Madine was filmed abusing the Sheffield United captain.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the two clubs at Bramall Lane, Wilder, the United manager also accused Madine of lacking respect for a player whose 21 goals have catapulted his team to the top of the table with 13 games remaining.
Footage emerged earlier this week of Madine, previously of Sheffield Wednesday, calling Sharp a “fat little pig” and although it is unclear when the video was taken, Wilder said: “I think Billy is the top player in this division, in everything he does. As a captain, leading the line, scoring and his work ethic. If anybody can give me a better player in the division, then I would gladly have a beer and a discussion with them.”
Wilder, who confirmed on-loan winger Harry Chapman (pictured) will rejoin United next week after recovering from injury, added: “It shows a lack of respect criticising any fellow player, it’s tough being a professional footballer. He won’t be the first, and won’t be the last.
“No doubt, along the way, there will be a Sheffield United player who has done something in the same vein. But he’s our captain, it’s a family issue. When you criticise someone in your family, he’s criticising all of us. It’s a bit of lack of respect for our football club.”
Third-placed Wanderers, managed by Wilder’s friend and former colleague Phil Parkinson, are seven points behind United but with two games in hand.
“I am not a lover of social media, some people are, but this is what happens,” Wilder said. “I should imagine their manager won’t be too pleased on the eve of the biggest match of the season, because I wouldn’t be. As a player who is our captain, has scored 21 goals and the leading goalscorer, it’s a bit of lack of respect. But he is not my player, I would be very disappointed if any one of my players did something like that.”
Acknowledging United do not need any extra incentive to try and beat Wanderers, Wilder added: “I don’t think our supporters will be too happy about it. We have to just concentrate on the game in hand, and go about the match in a professional way.”