Sheffield United’s decision to change formation means Daniel Lafferty, their on-loan wing-back, could be forced to undergo a crash course in finishing after scoring his first goal for the club earlier this week.
Lafferty was on target as Chris Wilder’s team stretched its unbeaten run in league competition to nine games following Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Shrewsbury Town.
With United now playing with three centre-halves rather than a flat back four, Lafferty said: “I’m probably going to have to work on my finishing a lot more now, especially with this new advances role. We’re creating good opportunities. I’m really enjoying it because, as well as doing that, I’m seeing a lot more of the ball and we’re putting together some really good stuff.”
Lafferty produced his best performance since arriving on a season long deal from Burnley at Greenhous Meadow. The result - Billy Sharp netted either side of the 27-year-old’s effort to claim his first brace for nearly four years - lifted United to fourth in the table ahead of this weekend’s meeting with second-placed Bradford City.
“Fingers crossed, it’s the first of a few for me,” Lafferty said. “I’m up to speed fitness wise now and so there’s no excuses for me not to get to the far post for crosses now. I’m enjoying it, the freedom to get up and down the pitch. We’ve got a massive game coming-up, a big Yorkshire derby, and hopefully we can stick to our mark again.”
City enter the Yorkshire derby with United having lost just once this season. Marc McNulty, on loan from United, scored during their 1-1 draw with Southend two days ago but Stuart McCall, Wilder’s counterpart at Valley Parade, said: “Southend battled really well. They were physical and got on the second balls and made it difficult for us to play.
“We had a good 20 minutes before half-time when we managed to break the lines, get a good goal and have two or three chances. We were on top but the second half ended up being very similar to before. Teams aren’t going to come here and let us play. Southend merited their point.”
Meanwhile, former United fitness coach Chris Short has taken up the same position with City.