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Sheffield United: Strikers are left under no illusion about what they must do to claim a starting place

Sheffield United striker Leon Clarke
Sheffield United striker Leon Clarke

Sheffield United's centre-forwards will ultimately be judged on the number of goals they score after Chris Wilder clarified his comments about the selection process at Bramall Lane.

Speaking earlier this month, the United manager insisted players such as Billy Sharp and Leon Clarke must also contribute in other areas too or risk being left on the sidelines.

But, as his team prepares for Saturday's visit to Millwall, Wilder confirmed: "At the end of the day, they are in there to score goals.

"There's others things they've got to do, being the first line of defence when we don't have the ball for instance. But like all strikers, they know they are judged on how many times they hit the back of the net."

The reason for Wilder’s comments:

Wilder's explanation, combined with his interpretation of David McGoldrick's performance against Preston North End last weekend, suggests attempts to highlight their other responsibilities were designed to protect the 30-year-old following a profligate display at Bristol City seven days earlier.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder protects his players

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder protects his players

Despite excelling with his movement, passing and link-up play, McGoldrick wasted three excellent first-half opportunities as United slipped to a 1-0 defeat before redeeming himself by scoring the winning goal when Alex Neil's side travelled to South Yorkshire.

"David needed a goal to add to his performance," Wilder continued. "If he's have scored last week, against Bristol City, he'd have been the outstanding player on the pitch by a mile."

"Dave McGoldrick, I think, has been outstanding since coming to the football club," Wilder added. "He's got great movement. Even the one he missed (against Preston), they way he just straightened their centre-half up before taking a shot was lovely to watch."

A key friendly:

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp

Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp

With Sharp cementing his place in United's starting eleven - the captain enters the meeting with Millwall having scored five times in eight outings - Clarke, Conor Washington and Ben Woodburn all enjoyed a chance to influence Wilder's picks during a behind-closed-doors friendly against Bury yesterday.

Washington and Paul Coutts were both on target before Wilder travelled to watch Neil Harris' team face Fulham in the EFL Cup.

Although Millwall made a number of changes for the tie, the trip proved worthwhile when Harris switched to a back three midway through the second-half.

"Everybody came through okay," Wilder said, referring to the 2-0 victory over Bury. "It was good for the lads who didn't start the last one or who weren't involved to get a run out and some minutes under the belt because we want everyone in the group pushing."

Sheffield United's David McGoldrick

Sheffield United's David McGoldrick