Sheffield United

Sheffield United

Premier League • England

Sheff Utd hero hints at change in system for Paul Heckingbottom as George Baldock and team-mate questioned

Sheffield United star George Baldock

Former Sheffield United striker Carl Asaba thinks current Blades George Baldock and Enda Stevens lack the attacking threat to play as wing-backs and are more suited to a back four.

Paul Heckingbottom has used three at the back since taking over from Slavisa Jokanovic last season. And it has worked for the Englishman, who has a record of 1.71 points per match since returning to Bramall Lane.

Heckingbottom has plenty of options on either flank. At left wing-back, he can use Stevens, Rhys Norrington-Davies and former Nottingham Forest loanee Max Lowe. On the right, Baldock and Jayden Bogle are available to Heckingbottom.

During the Championship defeat to Watford on Monday, the manager went with Norrington-Davies on the left of a back three due to Jack Robinson and Anel Ahmedhodzic being unavailable. Stevens started at left wing-back, while Lowe came on for him in the 55th minute.

Baldock was selected at right wing-back as Bogle continues to recover from a knee injury.

But Stevens and Baldock had a troublesome night at Vicarage Road and failed to offer Sheffield United much going forward.

Much is expected of Lowe after his successful campaign with Forest, though he lost possession on several occasions after coming on for Stevens.

Asaba, who hit 24 goals in 63 matches for United, has given his thoughts on the selection headache in a Twitter post. He reckons Heckingbottom would be better off replacing Stevens and Baldock if he is going to continue using three at the back.

Carl Asaba gives verdict on George Baldock, Enda Stevens

“Baldock and Stevens should be part of a back four in my eyes,” Asaba wrote. “They are defenders. Bogle, Lowe (last night was bizarre) to a lesser extent Norrington-Davies (amazing vs forest) and [Ben] Osborn are wing-backs.

“There’s no attacking width with Stevens and Baldock, [it] defeats the object of the formation.”

Asaba was then questioned by a fan about dropping the pair from the starting eleven or letting them go. After all, they did play a huge role in the success under Chris Wilder.

Asaba responded: “Brian Deane scored the first goal in the Premiership and played for England. He couldn’t today. History is history and you can only go on current form.

“Last season’s Stevens and Baldock were not the same as the ones that wowed us in our best-ever team which you refer [to].”

Heckingbottom certainly faces a big decision when it comes to his wing-backs. Stevens has been on the decline for the past year or two. And if this continues then Lowe or Norrington-Davies could play ahead of him.

Lowe still needs to get used to Heckingbottom’s demands after spending last season on loan at Forest. But he will hoping to improve after a poor display on Monday night. Norrington-Davies, meanwhile, will fancy his chances of getting into the team after doing well against some dangerous attackers last term.

Baldock has been a loyal servant to the Blades since joining from MK Dons in summer 2017. Olympiacos were hoping to sign him a few months ago, but the defender stayed put.

However, the 29-year-old cannot offer as much going forward as Bogle. This could see his younger counterpart come straight into the team once he is fully fit.