It is no coincidence that since Darragh Lenihan’s return from injury at the start of April, Blackburn Rovers’ results and performances have improved dramatically.
With the Irishman in the squad, Rovers defensive line is more organised, more comfortable with the ball at its feet, and much more dominant in the air, and that is thanks to Lenihan.
This season in particular, Lenihan has been a steady head at the back in what has at times looked an otherwise far from convincing defence, with the 25-year-old making a huge contribution to Rovers having one of the best home defensive records in the division, in their first season back following a year in League One.
It is no surprise then, that Lenihan’s performances have started to attract attention from those further up the pyramid, with newly promoted Sheffield United said to be considering an attempt to take the Irishman with them as they step up to the Premier League.
For all Lenihan’s impressive performances however, there are better options for The Blades to pursue.
If they were to recruit Lenihan, the defender would be experiencing Premier League football for the first time, while simultaneously having to adapt to Sheffield United’s unique three man overlapping centre back system that has been used so effectively by Chris Wilder this season.
Combine the pressures of those two challenges together, and it feels like a huge risk for The Blades to be taking.
It should also be worth noting that Lenihan has not been faultless this season, with the defender having conceded three penalties in as many games over the course of a week in late September: not the sort of opportunities a newly promoted side need to be giving opposition attacks if they are to give themselves the best possible chance of keeping themselves in the Premier League.
Lenihan’s performances this season may have been vital in keeping Rovers in the Championship, and while there is little doubt among those around the Lancashire side that the defender will play in the Premier League one day, it feels as though stepping up to keep Sheffield United in the top tier next season may just be too much too soon.