Sheffield United were making headway in climbing the table before back to back defeats hampered their progress going into the international break.
Jack O’Connell has been a sore miss for the Blades since injury ruled him out for the vast majority of the 2020/21 season and the centre back is still to return to action. The 27-year-old was heading towards contention for an England call-up after the excellent form he showed in United’s ninth placed finish in the Premier League in 2019/20.
The Blades’ backline has not been the same since and O’Connell’s absence has seen many struggle with John Egan the only remaining first choice centre back under Slavisa Jokanovic from the 2019/20 campaign.
Ben Davies has come in from Liverpool to varied degrees of success, after 11 games the Blades currently rank 16th for defensive process, measured with expected goals, which is not where they need to be if they want to build a promotion push in the lead-up to the busy Christmas period.
Here, then, are two potential transfer scenarios and positions that may need to be addressed by the club in the January window…
Even with the lack of solidity there is also a lack of depth that needs addressing which is exacerbated by O’Connell’s long term injury. There are only three fit senior centre backs at the club, the third being 33-year-old Chris Basham, and this caused Jack Robinson to be exposed out of position in the early knockings of the 2021/22 campaign.
Bringing in some competition for places for Egan and Davies to freshen the defensive contingent would be advisable after the Blades have consistently fallen on the wrong side of fine margins since the start of last season. A new assured centre back would be a crucial addition to their top six aspirations.
What if Morgan Gibbs-White is recalled?
Depending on how Wolverhampton Wanderers get on in the next few months they may want to bring Blades star man Morgan Gibbs-White back to Molineux. With Pedro Neto sidelined and Raul Jimenez yet to return to the form he showed before his head injury last season there is room for some inspiration in the final third at Wolves.
Only a true expert on Sheffield United will get these 27 Blades’ quiz questions correct
It seems like it was a last minute decision to send Gibbs-White out on loan in the first place with the club sending him to Bramall Lane on transfer deadline day, and therefore the chances are that Bruno Lage had considered his services for first team involvement.
Time will tell, but if Wolves start to slip towards the relegation zone the Blades should begin to prepare for the second half of the season without the influential 21-year-old.