Chris Wilder has expressed surprise that only five of his players were named in the Professional Footballers’ Association’s divisional team of the year.
Mark Duffy and captain Billy Sharp were among those recognised by their peers after helping Sheffield United lift the League One title.
But Wilder, speaking after Kieron Freeman, Simon Moore and John Fleck also received the accolade, admitted: “These lads deserve it but we’ll all look at it here and go ‘How has (Paul) Coutts not got in? How has Jack O’Connell not got in there too?’ I genuinely mean that but, in all seriousness, it’s great for the lads who did get in because it comes from their peers, their fellow pro’s.”
United play the penultimate match of their season tomorrow against a resurgent MK Dons. Despite making a slow start to the campaign, Robbie Neilson’s appointment as manager and their subsequent upturn in fortunes has led to suggestions they will mount a strong challenge for promotion next term.
United, 14 points ahead of second-placed Bolton Wanderers and 16 ahead of Fleetwood Town in third, travel to Buckinghamshire searching for their sixth straight win.
Wilder, insisting the PFA members’ selections reflect his squad’s overwhelming superiority, added: “We’ve dominated the division in terms of wins, home record, away record, goals scored, the way we’ve played and, most importantly, the attitude of the group. I think it tells a story to be fair.
“But, like I say, from a personal point of view I’d probably have had a few more in there myself.”
O’Connell is expected to feature at Stadium mk despite suffering an injury scare during Monday’s victory over Bradford City. James Hanson, previously of Stuart McCall’s side, is a doubt after the calf problem which ruled him out of the Easter fixture schedule proved more serious than first thought.
“We thought Jack had a dead leg but then he’s running around like a mad man towards the end,” Wilder said. “He put in one crunching tackle right at the end, even thought we were 3-0 up, that told you exactly what he and the rest of the lads are all about; the desire they’ve got to win games of football and keep pushing themselves on.”
Admitting he is considering changes for the meeting with Dons, Wilder added: “We’ve got a few things to consider and we might leave it until a little bit later than we usually do. We’ve got some decisions to make but, rest assured, it will be a team we think can go out there and win.”
Meanwhile, United’s under-18’s face Charlton Athletic in the PDL North 2 semi-finals at Bramall Lane tonight (kick-off 7pm).