Team News: Sheffield United
By Kevin Affleck
Nigel Pearson says he plans to use the depth of his squad over the Christmas period, starting at Sheffield United on Boxing Day where he needs to replace the suspended Abdoulaye Doucouré.
Doucouré picked up his fifth booking of the season on Sunday, resulting in a one-game ban. Pearson must now decide whether to replace the Frenchman with Roberto Pereyra or Nathaniel Chalobah at Bramall Lane, but the Head Coach showed against Manchester United he has full faith in his bench by substituting both Doucouré and Étienne Capoue, arguably the best midfield pair in the league last season, when the game was at a critical stage.
“Over the next few games we'll need the squad to contribute as it's quite a hectic schedule,” said Pearson. “I don't really want to overthink things like this [missing Doucouré]. When players aren't available, I don't waste energy thinking about what we will miss.”
José Holebas, Tom Cleverley, Daryl Janmaat, Sebastian Prödl and Danny Welbeck all remain sidelined, but they will all seek solace in the way Troy Deeney has come back and is now fully up and running after scoring his first goal on Sunday since a knee operation.
“Troy will put pressure on himself as he's a talisman for us,” said the Head Coach. “He's going to be an important player for us. I think the injury has taken a while to recover from, but I am sure in the next few months he will continue to be an important player. I don't think it matters who scores – we just need to score more goals.”
Ismaïla Sarr now has two in the league after he hooked one in against Manchester United. He also won the match-clinching penalty. The Senegal international is starting to look a real handful on the right of a front three and has been really impressive in Pearson's two games in charge.
“He's a young man who is settling in,” said Pearson. “We can harness his ability and skill and he'll improve with time for sure. We talked about not really mattering how we won – it was about getting the result. It's always nice if you play well. But in the context of our season, we have got to try and pick up points whether we play well or not. That's about game management. We've got to be able to function well as a team. That's the key message for us. We've got talented individuals and they'll have a better chance of flourishing if the work ethic and team ethic is strong.”