Don't write off a fit Billy Sharp firing in the goals for Sheffield United in the Championship: Alan Biggs' Blades Column
Wonder how many Championship clubs tried to lever Billy Sharp out of Sheffield United on loan over the past two seasons?
Bet it was more than the six Premier League goals Sharp scored (from very limited appearances) for United in the Premier League.
That’s because, over numerous seasons, there has been nobody more guaranteed to score goals in the second tier.
Why shouldn’t the same apply next season? If so, the rest of the division can give up the chase.
And knowing Billy he’d have backed himself to be a regular marksman in the top flight as well, had he been picked to start more often. A frustration he did well to conceal as part of his responsibilities as captain.
The other big numbers, of course, are 3 and 5. Will the calculation arising from the Blades skipper’s birth certificate finally subdue the scoring stats?
It’s a fair question for a player in his position and one only just returning from surgery on a muscle injury, having missed the back end of last season.
A third campaign at the top level might have been a stretch, even as a squad player. But back in the Championship, I’m thinking we haven’t seen the last of Sharp’s goal-grabbing exploits.
As things stand, it’s his final season on contract at Bramall Lane and it’s hard to imagine any player being more motivated.
The big picture in his head will be the 23 league goals he plundered in United’s promotion two years ago.
Whatever changes new boss Slavisa Jokanovic makes - and they are likely to be minimal with the status quo - Sharp will be the most natural chance-taker in his dressing room.
The key will be enduring fitness and that’s also where the previously mentioned motivation comes in.
Billy has maintained very high levels in that respect and you really can’t see him dipping.
He’s never been noted for pace but speed of thought and instinct have long given him the extra yard.
So I’d expect the United talisman to be either in or very close to Jokanovic’s starting line-ups as he looks, potentially, to go out from his club from boyhood with the proverbial bang.
I’m not sure there will be too many other strikers boasting 249 career goals in the Championship next season.
You write off that sort of record at your peril.