Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp will be out for “weeks rather than days” with a calf tear but is “going to fight tooth and nail to play some part” should they qualify for the play-offs, manager Paul Heckingbottom has revealed.
The Blades moved one step closer to a top-six finish with a 3-1 comeback win against QPR at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium last night.
Sixth-place United now have a five-point gap over Middlesbrough, with Blackburn Rovers and Millwall further back still, but with the trio set to play today and Heckingbottom’s side taking on league leaders Fulham on the final day, there could still be a twist in the tale.
If the Yorkshire club are to qualify for the play-offs, they’ll have to do so without their skipper, who picked up an injury in training at the start of the week.
Speaking to FLW after last night’s win against the R’s, Heckingbottom provided an update and hinted at the timeline of his return.
“Billy’s got a tear in his calf,” he said. “Suffered it on Monday, I think you can understand why I didn’t tell you when I spoke to you ahead of the game.
“It’s not good news, we know, and it is going to be weeks rather than days. We want to keep the season alive for him because he’s going to do all he can to get back if we can extend this season.
“He’s going to fight tooth and nail to play some part if we can manage to get in the play-offs.”
Sharp’s absence is a clear blow for the Blades, who can now add their top scorer to a list of injured attacking players that also includes Rhian Brewster, David McGoldrick, and Oli McBurnie.
The 36-year-old has been excellent in his return to the Championship – scoring 14 times and providing seven assists – and it would be massive for United if he can get back in time for the play-offs.
Navigating their final season game against Fulham will not be easy but clinching that final top six place would be a huge momentum boost ahead of the play-offs while confidence would be higher still if Sharp returns.
The play-off semi-finals will be played between Friday 13th of May and Tuesday 17th of May while the final is on Sunday 29th of May – meaning he has at least a fortnight to recover.