Sheffield United: Skipper relishes extra competition

Captain: Michael Doyle welcomes the new duo.     PICTURE: MARTIN HARRISON
Captain: Michael Doyle welcomes the new duo. PICTURE: MARTIN HARRISON

A LACK of competition for places has undermined Sheffield United’s quest to go up this season, captain Michael Doyle has admitted.

Key senior players, including experienced defensive duo Neill Collins and Matt Hill, sustained injuries over the Christmas period and United’s form alarmingly dipped. A five-match winless run in League One raised major question marks over their promotion credentials.

But, bolstered by the arrivals of Barry Robson, Jonathan Forte and Dominic Poleon, Danny Wilson’s troops have recorded three victories on the trot to reignite their top-two push. Indeed, Doyle reckons the three new recruits have freshened things up at Bramall Lane.

“It was massive for us to add bodies to the squad,” the midfielder told The Star. “It is what we needed.

“We haven’t had enough competition (this year) and it’s been a problem for us. You need a good squad to get promotion.”

In United’s revival, Robson has stood out, adding an extra dimension to Wilson’s midfield engine room. The cultured midfielder, in his first start, bagged his first goal in United colours from the penalty spot in their 3-0 win over Colchester United last weekend.

Doyle said: “Barry is a quality player who will score goals for us. He always wants the ball and tries to make things happen.”

Wilson has described Robson as a “very intelligent” footballer and is confident he will be a big asset in the final months of the 2012/13 season.

“Barry drifts around the pitch and gets on the ball in different pockets of play,” said the United chief. “The ball is like a magnet to him at times.”

Hill, meanwhile, is itching to get back into the starting line-up after stepping up his recovery from a broken jaw. The left-back, who got 90 minutes under his belt in the under-21’s defeat to Leeds United on Monday, said: “I will just train hard and make sure I am ready when called upon by the gaffer.”

Did you know? Joint League One leaders Bournemouth, who host United on Saturday, have lost the last SEVEN meetings between the two sides. The Cherries have not beaten United since 1987.