Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has paid tribute to Billy Sharp’s influence as the League One leaders attempt to take another step towards promotion this weekend.
United travel to Oldham Athletic on Saturday six points clear of second-placed Bolton Wanderers and 10 ahead of Fleetwood Town in third with only eight games left to play.
Sharp, the South Yorkshire club’s captain, will enter the fixture only two goals short of his 200 career landmark. But Wilder, despite recognising the centre-forward’s efforts on the pitch, told The Star last night he is also proving invaluable off it as United look to reach the Championship next term.
“The captain has been outstanding, I can’t praise him enough,” Wilder said. “I like him as a lad too, he’s just a decent kid.
“He’s possibly got the biggest CV in the dressing room but he’s grounded. He’s constantly texting the lads, telling them what we’ve got to do and getting them all together.
“He feels the responsibility because he’s local. You see that because, when he scores, everybody is around him. And when somebody else scores, Billy is always around them as well.”
“He’s desperate to see the club do well,” Wilder added. “And you can’t have enough people like that in a dressing room.”
Sharp, who has scored 26 times since August, recently insisted he would gladly not hit the target again this term if it guaranteed United the title. Wilder, who overhauled both the club’s personality and personnel after taking charge in May, admitted he admired Sharp’s attitude but, with James Hanson, Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty among those vying to partner the 31-year-old, suspects he is not telling the whole truth.
“He’s not bothered about getting there is he? Do you believe him?’ Wilder (inset) said. “It’s good that he wants to score goals but we’ve got lots of different options up there now and that’s good too. There’s Caolan, Big Hans, Marc McNulty and Matt Done has been really patient too.”
Done could be set for a starting role at Boundary Park after Daniel Lafferty was called-up for Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Norway. The former Rochdale striker has previously deputised at wing-back.