Sheffield United: Why resting Chris Basham proved the highlight of Chris Wilder’s weekend

Chris Basham has made his presence felt both on and off the pitch this season. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Basham has made his presence felt both on and off the pitch this season. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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Watching his team climb back to the top of the League One table following an emphatic 4-0 win should, by rights, have been the highlight of Chris Wilder’s weekend.

But the Sheffield United manager, whose side head to Peterborough on Saturday emboldened by their performance against AFC Wimbledon, revealed last night that something else pleased him more.

Outlining his pre-match conversation with Chris Basham, when the defender was informed he would not be starting the game with Neal Ardley’s side, Wilder said: “People will talk about the spirit of the team. Chris Basham’s reaction to not playing, and he’s been one of our best players this year on and off the pitch, was outstanding. He was first in the changing room, he was all over the lads making sure they were prepared and ready to get going.

“That, for me as a manager, is great to see. Other people will look at the 4-0 scoreline. For me though, seeing people like Bash doing that, is possibly even more pleasing because it tells you something about the lads.”

Basham, who has made 32 appearances this season, was rested in favour of Jake Wright for the meeting with AFC Wimbledon five days ago. Although Wright produced a commanding display at the heart of United’s defence, an injury to fellow centre-half Ethan Ebanks-Landell means the 28-year-old could be recalled to the starting eleven at London Road. James Wilson, who scored during Monday’s Professional Development League victory over Leeds, is also pressing hard for a recall after recovering from an ankle injury.

“We’ve got good options in the squad now,” Wilder continued. “And that’s given us some problems in terms of selection, but only the type of problems you want to have. You need people to be pushing and that’s what’s happening. Even during the week, that’s just as important.”

James Wilson hopes to force his way back into Sheffield United's starting eleven. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

James Wilson hopes to force his way back into Sheffield United's starting eleven. Pic Simon Bellis/Sportimage

A number of players have credited Wilder’s notoriously exacting training sessions with transforming the club’s fortunes this season after they finished 11th under Nigel Adkins last term. The recent arrival of players including James Hanson, Joe Riley and Jay O’Shea should ensure standards remain high ahead of the visit to London Road where Peterborough will be desperate to record their first home win of 2017.

Wilder, who will assess Ebanks-Landell’s condition before finalising United’s preparations for the fixture, said: “Nothing comes easy and that’s why it’s so important to have everyone pulling in the same direction.”

Meanwhile, United’s home game against Coventry City, which had been scheduled to take place on April 1, has been postponed. A new date will be announced shortly.

Sheffield United's Ethan Ebanks-Landell hopes to be fit for the visit to Peterborough United. Pic David Klein/Sportimage

Sheffield United's Ethan Ebanks-Landell hopes to be fit for the visit to Peterborough United. Pic David Klein/Sportimage