Sheffield United: Clough’s challenge to bad-boy Brandy

Febian Brandy celebrates his goal for United's U21s with Florent Cuvelier
Febian Brandy celebrates his goal for United's U21s with Florent Cuvelier

Manager Nigel Clough has urged Febian Brandy to follow Jamie Murphy’s lead, and force his way back into the Sheffield United side.

Brandy, the former Manchester United trainee and Walsall winger, has not started a game for United since his red card, in a 2-0 defeat at Shrewsbury back at the start of November.

The winger was hit with a four-game ban after his second sending off of the season, and was heavily fined by Clough.

But the diminutive winger did make a cameo from the bench during last weekend’s 1-0 win over Swindon Town - and scored for United in their U21 development fixture against Huddersfield Town on Monday afternoon.

“Febian’s been out for around six weeks now, and he’s got a lot to do to get back in the team,” Clough said.

“But we’ve seen what Jamie Murphy can do now - he had a slow start when I came here, but he’s come back into contention and after his goal against Cambridge, he got a start against Swindon.

“Anyone can do that if they work hard enough.

“It’s all about competitiveness: Matt Hill, for one, epitomises it.

“He was left out and was, of course, disappointed. But he came on for the last 15 minutes and made sure we got the clean sheet.

“We could do with a few more like Matt around!”

Clough also paid tribute to Jose Baxter, whose second goal in as many games sealed the 1-0 victory over Swindon.

Barring illness or injury, Baxter will make his 17th appearance in United colours this weekend against Stevenage and Clough said: “Jose’s two goals have been vital - one to get us through in the cup, and another to get us a win and a clean sheet at home.

“After some disappointing results, we needed a victory at home going into the Christmas period and it’s lovely to see Jose in the six-yard box.

“That’s where you get your goals most of the time, but sometimes players like that operate outside the area.

“At the minute, you get your rewards when you get the ball to Jose and if we can get him fit and firing on all cylinders, he can be a big asset for us.”

Murphy, meanwhile, is enjoying something of a resurgence since his goalscoring substitute appearance in the FA Cup win at Cambridge.

The 24-year-old winger was rewarded for an impressive display with his first start under Clough against Swindon, and the former Scottish U21 international admitted: “I’m happy to have forced my way back into the gaffer’s plans, and I feel happy with the way I’ve performed since the FA Cup game.

“I always feel like I train hard and give my best every single day, so it’s good to see that rewarded with a place in the team.

“Now it’s up to me to keep that going, but it’s always good to be named in the starting line-up - especially when you win, like we did last weekend.

“It was a big performance from us, and I think we needed it - especially with the game being at home.

“We want to win every game at Bramall Lane, and hopefully that was just the start.”

Lyle Taylor and Sean McGinty both completed 90 minutes for United’s U21s on Monday, in a 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield.

Harry Bunn, a former United youth loanee from Manchester City, netted for the West Yorkshire outfit while defender Lecsinel Jean-François, who was released by United in June, played an hour for Chris Morgan’s side.

The Haitian defender has been training at United’s Redtooth Academy as part of his rehabilitation from a knee injury, but a deal remains unlikely.