This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has admitted he hasn’t even thought about sending goalkeeper Robin Olsen back to AS Roma early despite a disappointing start to his time at Bramall Lane, making this revelation to Yorkshire Live.
Receiving mixed reviews for his performances earlier in the season, the Swedish international picked up an injury on international duty during the previous interval, ruling him out of domestic action since the end of last month and enabling Wes Foderingham to take his place between the sticks.
Ex-Rangers man Foderingham has been solid during his mini-spell as the Blades’ number one, not letting anyone down earlier in the campaign when he stepped in temporarily after Aaron Ramsdale’s departure to Arsenal and performing well yet again recently.
Quiz: What club do these 20 ex-Sheffield United strikers play for now?
With this and the likes of Jake Eastwood and Michael Verrips ready to step up when both are fit, 31-year-old loanee Olsen could be deemed surplus to requirements at Bramall Lane.
But boss Heckingbottom has recently poured cold water on this possibility, citing the need for competition as a reason to keep him and with this, it doesn’t seem as though he will be heading back to the Stadio Olimpico anytime soon.
But is retaining him the right decision from the 44-year-old? We asked three of our Football League World writers for their verdicts on this and the shot-stoppers current situation.
I can understand this decision from Paul Heckingbottom because he will probably be eyeing up other areas of the squad that need investment in during the January transfer window.
The financial resources that Sheffield United have at the moment mean that it is unlikely that they will be working with a large budget in the winter window so areas do have to be prioritised.
Robin Olsen’s loan spell at Sheffield United has been as impressive as it could have been so far, but he has not done anything to suggest that he is not at least a decent option for them to call upon for the rest of the campaign.
Therefore, it makes little sense for them to allow him to leave Bramall Lane and leave themselves needing to find a new keeper in January.
The Sweden international has a lot to prove over the second half of the campaign though and he faces a tough challenge of getting back in the side as well after Wes Foderingham’s recent performances.
Therefore, he will need to stay fully focused on his loan spell because it is a chance to put himself in the shop window for the summer.
Since Robin Olsen has been out with a rib injury, Wes Foderingham has proven to be a more than capable option in-between the sticks.
In fact, he started the season relatively well, proving to be an excellent shot-stopper and competent with the ball at his feet.
That has continued into the latest run of games he has been given in the starting XI, and at this point, it would be very harsh to drop him (when Olsen returns).
When Olsen returns, he will provide fierce completion for Foderingham, and that could help drive the pair on.
Olsen will want to be playing week in week out when fully fit, but he will have to work extremely hard to dethrone the 30-year-old.
I am not surprised to see Heckingbottom taking this stance.
While Robin Olsen has not set the world alight since joining Sheffield United on loan, it’s a sensible decision to keep him in the squad until the end of the season.
We don’t know what percentage of his wages the Blades are paying and there’s certainly an argument that if he’s not first choice then it would be better to free up space on the wage bill but this season more than ever squad depth is important.
How United respond to injury and illness could play a key role in what they can achieve through the last part of the 2021/22 campaign, so having a player of Olsen’s experience to turn to at some point before the end of the season could prove vital.
I’m not convinced Heckingbottom needs to add too much more to his squad in January and to that end, having a bit more security in terms of goalkeeping depth could be a smart move.