Sheffield United: Clough wants to strike the right balance

Conor Coady scored after being recalled to the starting eleven � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Conor Coady scored after being recalled to the starting eleven � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Nigel Clough has reserved the right to change Sheffield United’s personnel as he attempts to strike a balance between establishing a settled starting eleven and his desire to trim Bramall Lane’s squad, writes James Shield.

Clough has made no attempt to disguise the fact that he wants to work with a smaller group of players since taking charge of the League One club earlier this term with graduates of its youth system, not the transfer market, the first port of call in a selection crisis.

Asked why Jamie Murphy, who impressed during United’s recent FA Cup success over Aston Villa was named on the bench for last weekend’s defeat by Notts County, Clough explained: “We had five matches in less than two weeks leading up to our last one and that’s something we’ve got to take into account. Jamie and Ryan (Flynn) both looked a little bit leggy which is understandable and so one of those was probably always going to sit out at the beginning. In the event it was Jamie but I thought Ryan looked a little tired as well.

“Conor (Coady) came in at County because he’d been excellent in training during the week. It’s important he was rewarded and he deserved to be.”

Despite his desire to cut the numbers at his disposal, which can be traced back to a belief that it is impossible to keep a large staff happy in England’s third tier, Clough is pressing ahead with his search for reinforcements during the loan window ahead of Saturday’s contest with Bradford City.

“We had Elliott (Whitehouse) and Terry (Kennedy) also on the bench (at County) so there’s a little bit of room there,” he said. “Elliott has come back to us after enjoying an excellent loan spell with York City.

“Watching him in training, you can tell that he’s had a good run of games. That’s why, depending upon what the situation is, it’s something that we may look at doing again because it can be really beneficial for everyone concerned.”

Meanwhile, Diego De Girolamo scored twice during the under-18’s win over their counterparts from Coventry City before being withdrawn as a precautionary measure. Otis Khan also claimed a brace during the 4-1 victory at the Redtooth Academy.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1