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Sport Paul Heckingbottom explains surprising Sheffield United selection decision after costly Reading defeat

12:10  16 april  2022
12:10  16 april  2022 Source:   footballleagueworld.co.uk

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Championship - Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest © Provided by Football League World Championship - Sheffield United v Nottingham Forest

Reading claimed a shock 2-1 win at Sheffield United on Saturday with Tom McIntrye scoring a dramatic late winner to spark scenes of jubilation in the away end at Bramall Lane.

The Blades would have thought they would be taking a point when Iliman Ndiaye levelled proceedings in the 90th minute, but the Royals snatched all three points in what will go down as a missed opportunity for United to strengthen their grip on a play-off spot.

Sander Berge dropped to the bench and replaced Filip Uremovic at half time with Heckingbottom deploying more attacking tactics in the second half.

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The Norwegian has been crucial in the Blades’ resurgence of late and Heckingbottom explained why he was absent from the starting XI when he spoke to The Athletic.

He said: “Sander will be a huge player for us.

“Not just in these final four games of the season but also hopefully beyond.

“He knows that after I explained it to him (why he did not start against Reading).

“If Sander is playing when physically good and able to impose himself on the game, there are not many better.

“He played his part after coming on and will be ready to go on Monday.”

The Blades are at risk of falling out of the top six if Middlesbrough win their game in hand on them, and it would seem that Heckingbottom had Monday’s trip to Bristol City in mind when dropping Berge to the bench.

Paul Heckingbottom gives update on Sheffield Utd’s soon-to-be out of contract players

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The Verdict

It certainly feels like Berge will not be at Sheffield United next season unless they win promotion to the Premier League, such is the attacking midfielder’s quality.

An unfortunate couple of seasons with injuries may have also pushed Heckingbottom to give him some rest, hoping to maximise the 24-year-old’s output in the crunch encounters that are to come this season.

The Blades’ next three are kind before a final day meeting with Fulham could decide their fate, Bristol City and Cardiff City have been in the bottom half for the vast majority of the season, and their penultimate fixture is a trip to out of form Queens Park Rangers, nine points would surely secure a play-off spot.

Source

Promotion message now clear but Sheffield United have lessons to learn from Reading defeat .
The Blades suffered a 2-1 defeat courtesy of a goal in added-on time but there can be few complaints They were second best all over the pitch as Reading put together a 'proper team performance' in the eyes of their manager Paul Ince. They were everything United weren't.

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This is interesting!