Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic has singled out Ben Osborn for praise due to his versatility at Bramall Lane, speaking to The Star on the 27-year-old.
The former Nottingham Forest man has scored twice for the Blades this season, grabbing a brace against Peterborough United at the weekend after starting the season against Birmingham City at left-wing back.
Adapting to different positions isn’t anything new for the left-sided player, who even played up top for his former side in the East Midlands, also operating in central midfield during his time at the City Ground and briefly at his current club.
Are each of these 18 celebrities Sheffield United supporter or not?
Slavisa Jokanovic spoke about not just his ability to play in several positions, but also how well he adapts to each role, saying to the Sheffield Star: “For me, to be honest, I have used him in many different positions.
“Sometimes I am worried that I might confuse him.
“This could happen but he always adapts very well, and having that (flexibility) at our disposal is very important and valuable for us.”
For a side that failed to recruit a winger during the transfer winger though, the Blades may find they could benefit the most from playing him in his more orthodox position at left midfield.
Although the South Yorkshire side targeted multiple players including Liverpool wide man Harvey Elliott, Manchester United starlet Amad Diallo and FC Barcelona’s Alex Collado during the summer, none of these potential moves were able to be pushed through.
The latter was the closest to arriving at Bramall Lane with Barcelona finalising the deal on their end, but a change in ‘conditions’ by the player’s agent that were deemed unacceptable by the Championship side scuppered his late-summer move.
This has left them with a huge shortage of wingers after seeing the club spend the last couple of years operating in a 5-3-2 formation without the requirement for advanced wide players – but with Osborn in the team, as well as Oliver Burke and Wolves loanee Morgan Gibbs-White who can also operate out wide – this could give the Blades another dimension going forward.
Because Osborn has adapted to old manager Chris Wilder’s system and the fact he’s played in so many different positions, it’s often hard to remember he’s played in left midfield more than any other position – and his experience in the Championship and ability to adapt quickly will give Jokanovic a different option going forward.
Although his lack of wingers still makes the old 5-3-2 system a tempting one to utilise, especially with their depth in midfield now after Adlene Guedioura’s arrival and the sheer number of options they have up top, having an advanced threat out wide will help them to stretch teams, ensure they don’t become too narrow and with that, create more chances.
Ideally, they will need to bring in another wide option in January to cover for injuries and provide that extra bit of quality. That extra quality could be the difference between promotion and stay down in the Championship, but for now, they will be hoping Osborn can do a sufficient job in their quest to climb up the table.
The one thing that will be a source of concern for Sheffield United is his lack of goals and assists throughout his playing career.
But this is a new season for Osborn, a fresh start, a great opportunity to showcase what he can do and after scoring twice against Peterborough United, he will be hoping to kick on and show why he should be in the starting lineup even if the South Yorkshire outfit invest in a winger in the winter window.