DANNY Wilson is to consider promoting wingers Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Ryan Flynn from the bench to boost Sheffield United’s firepower against League One leaders Charlton this weekend.
Wilson is laying down a challenge to his midfielders rather than his strikers after the shock 1-0 defeat at Wycombe that led to the Blades dropping to third place.
Describing both summer signings as “very close”, Wilson makes no attempt to underplay the importance of Saturday’s Bramall Lane clash. “I’m looking at this as a big game - a chance to be joint top again,” he said. “And we’ve got to be better in front of goal. But that’s not just from the strikers’ point of view.
“I don’t think that’s a problem. All the strikers have got good goal ratios from games played (Richard Cresswell four goals, Chris Porter three, Ched Evans two).” Wilson, who traces the wasteful trend back to an otherwise healthy 3-0 home win over Colchester, added: “We had numerous chances in that game and everybody is creating them, which is a good sign really.
“And then last week I’ve never seen such a one-sided game without a team getting a result. The only area to blame is in front of goal.”
Competition is even more intense behind the forwards. Besides midfield anchorman Michael Doyle - shortly to be under challenge from the returning Nick Montgomery - Stephen Quinn, Lee Williamson and Kevin McDonald held the offensive roles in last Saturday’s 1-0 reverse. The emphasis is on that area with Mendez-Laing and Flynn competing hard, while Danny Philliskirk and David McAllister are also in the mix. But Charlton’s visit will also test the reliability of United’s back line after young Harry Maguire’s isolated and forgivable blip last week.
“It’s a big challenge for us,” said Wilson, whose side sit just three points behind the Londoners. “But I’m sure they’ll respect us as we respect them. Charlton have had no slip-ups whatsoever and have shown a bit of pedigree.”
The stand-out stat is Charlton’s away record - unbeaten in five with four wins. That should present a different sort of Bramall Lane test for the Blades and maybe a welcome one. “Teams have come and set their stall out to keep it tight,” added Wilson. “It sounds like Charlton are playing very positively away from home and our reports say that not only have they won but they’ve deserved to win.
“Both of us are in good form and it should be a cracker between two sides who, by all expectations, will be challenging at the end of the season.”