According to the old football adage, managers should never change a winning team.
But, as Sheffield United prepare for this afternoon’s game at Peterborough, Chris Wilder has admitted he could tweak his starting eleven to “keep things fresh” as the race for promotion enters a critical phase.
Having climbed back to the top of League One after overwhelming AFC Wimbledon last weekend, the 49-year-old acknowledged yesterday that, fitness permitting, every player who featured in that 4-0 win will expect to be named in the squad which travels to London Road.
Despite admitting his selection policy could lead to some awkward conversations behind the scenes, Wilder said: “Individual glory has to be put to one side for team success. We will freshen up, we have got a hectic period. We will change things with players who have played a lot of games, or maybe consider a change in formation, to try and brighten us up.”
United, two points ahead of second-placed Scunthorpe, visit Bristol Rovers on Tuesday before facing Graham Alexander’s side next weekend. Seven days later, Bolton Wanderers are scheduled to arrive at Bramall Lane although Phil Parkinson’s team, who face Walsall this afternoon, have seen their push for a top two finish hijacked by off the pitch events. A report released by Wanderers Supporters’ Trust yesterday warned Phil Parkinson’s side, who are third in the table, must raise up to £30m to guarantee their survival until the end of the 2017/18 campaign. Auditors Deloitte have also predicted continued annual losses at the club of around £11m while co-owners Ken Anderson and Dean Holdsworth are locked in an increasingly bitter dispute.
Wilder’s chief concern ahead of the trip to Cambridgeshire is the fitness of centre-half Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who has been receiving treatment for a hip injury in recent weeks.
“We want everybody fit, but that quickly changes,” he said. “The players have to be bright, even if they are disappointed at not being in the team or even the 18 on a matchday. All the players understand that. One minute you can have a fully-fit squad, the next you have two or three injuries.
“Then the door opens for other people, and they have to be ready to be involved.”