Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder concedes he learned a lot about his fringe players in watching them go down 1-0 to Sunderland in the Carabao Cup. The Blades were second best all over the park against their League One opponents, with Max Power’s ninth-minute strike seeing Jack Ross’ side into the fourth round.
Wilder used the game to assess his squad depth and was let down by his squad players, admitting afterwards they had “not taken their chance” or given the coaching staff a “nudge” in trying to include them.
While goalkeeper Simon Moore and midfielder Mo Besic were absolved of blame, as were substitutes Leon Clarke and Oli McBurnie, the 52-year-old delivered a damning review when asked about his other players.
Just like in his previous three seasons at Bramall Lane, the boss has largely stuck with the same starting XI in the league this time around.
Therefore, chances to impress have been few and far between for those on the sidelines. It may well be argued that a lack of sharpness potentially cost them on their big night.
Wilder was certainly left unimpressed, saying he would be “wasting energy” by “ripping into them”, but hardly held back in his post-match assessment. “The players have not taken their chance to knock on my door,” he told reporters. “I don’t think any of them are really going to be knock on it tomorrow morning, asking me why they’re not involved. That’s their issue and their problem.”
He added: “The one thing I do know after that is, (in the Premier League), I’m picking the right team.”
Saturday sees United host Liverpool in the Premier League’s lunchtime kick-off and there is little doubt the boss will be returning to his favoured starting line-up.
The Blades have upset the odds by taking eight points from their opening six games of the season and will be aiming to upset the Reds, who have taken the maximum 18 points from their sextet of outings.