Sheffield United: Blades struck by defensive crisis

Nigel Adkins admitted Sheffield United's hopes of reaching the League One play-offs have suffered a huge blow after an injury to Alex Baptiste, their on-loan centre-half, left his side teetering on the brink on a major selection crisis.

Sunday, 20th March 2016, 11:07 pm
Updated Sunday, 20th March 2016, 11:26 pm
Nigel Adkins looks on as Alex Baptiste goes off injured during the League One match against Millwall

Baptiste is set to miss United’s forthcoming games against Crewe Alexandra and Southend after limping-out of last weekend’s defeat by Millwall with a hamstring problem.

And with fellow defender David Edgar also unavailable due to his international commitments, Adkins faces the unpalatable prospect of naming an untested back three for a series of fixtures which could effectively make or break United top six chances.

“Losing Alex was big blow,” Adkins told The Star. “It looks as if he’s pulled or strained it. We don’t know the full extent of it yet but, if that is the case, then he’s looking at a couple of weeks (out) at the very least.

“It only increases the frustration and, of course, we lose David for two matches now as well.”

“Alex has been looking really fit and really strong,” the United manager added. “And really good too.”

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Adkins, whose side slipped to 12th in the table after being beaten at The Den, attempted to put a brave face on the loss of Baptiste and Edgar insisting: “We can deal with it, we can cope.” But, having only arrived from Middlesbrough earlier this month, Baptiste’s absence, coupled with Edgar’s presence in the Canada squad which faces Mexico in World Cup qualifiers on March 25 and 29, could force the United manager back into the transfer market.

Adkins allowed Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Stefan Scougall to join Chesterfield and Fleetwood Town respectively on a temporary basis before the visit to London before ommiting Che Adams from his starting eleven following several below-par displays in training.

“Harrison McGahey can play at centre-half, he’s been very patient,” Adkins said. “We know John Brayford can go in there and Ben Whiteman could too. We’ve got the week to go (before Crewe) and so maybe, with a couple going out, that creates the space to bring someone in.

“We’ve already endeavoured to do something, in the period before Millwall, but the ones we want are staying with their parent clubs. Who knows, though, that might change.”