Sheffield United captain Billy Sharp is a big doubt for Wednesday’s clash with Middlesbrough in what Paul Heckingbottom describes as a “big loss” for his team.

Boro will travel to Bramall Lane on Wednesday night for what is quite the clash as far as the race for automatic promotion goes, as third takes against second. If Boro doesn’t win, he will fall to 13 points behind Heckingbottom’s team, which also has a game to play. However, it looks likely they will have to play without Sharp, with his ankle injured in the weekend’s win over Swansea City.

Sharp is 37 years old now, but he has played 24 league games for the Blades this season and remains an influential player for the Blades. Heckingbottom admits that his absence would be a huge loss, with few options in the centre-forward squad at the moment. However, they are buoyed by the return of Daniel Jebbison from a three-match suspension.

READ MORE: The mood in Middlesbrough’s dressing room ahead of the big Sheffield United clash

On Sharp’s injury, Heckingbottom said: “Billy is a big doubt. He’s got a walking boot to take as much pressure off that ankle as possible. They did an X-ray and it came out clean, but there’s swelling, so there’s a problem there.

“It would be a big loss because of the position he plays and where we’re lightweight. We lost Reda when we let him come back and we couldn’t bring somebody back. We brought Will Osula back and he broke his jaw and then he lost Jebbo for three games, so in that sense it would be a huge loss, but not only that, but also in terms of personality.”

Boro heads to Steel City hoping to keep his two best hopes alive with what would be a fourth successive league win. It is to Michael Carrick’s credit that there is so much in the game, given that they were 21st in the league table just 15 games ago when the head coach first arrived.

“He’s doing a good job,” Heckingbottom said of Carrick. “Watching them play now, there are a lot of players who seem to be really comfortable in the setup and how they want to play. It brings out the best in them. You can see how they want to set up their team.”


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