Opportunity knocks: The six Sheffield United players who could be out to impress at Derby County

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Sheffield United travel to Derby County for their third pre-season friendly this evening.

After two matches north of the border against Dundee United and Hearts as part of their week-long tour of Scotland, United return home for two more fixtures, with the trip to Pride Park followed by Friday’s match at home to Preston.

However, manager Chris Wilder will be forced to pick a patched-up team for both matches with seven first team members away on international duty and five more players doubtful due to injury and availability.

And while Wilder revealed yesterday his disappointment at having to prepare for the season’s big kick-off at home to Wolves on September 14 without his full squad available, it will present some of the squad members and the club’s promising young academy players the chance to impress at Pride Park this evening.

The first one is Wes Foderingham.

The goalkeeper arrived on a free in the summer after his contract at Rangers expired. Wilder said last season that one of the top priorities during the transfer window was to strengthen a goalkeeping department that he felt needed more quality.

Aaron Ramsdale will start the season as number one but will miss this week’s matches after being called up by England under-21s. Foderingham will therefore feature against Derby and Preston and all eyes will be on him during these two games as United fans get the first chance to see the new signing in action.

Jack Rodwell is another.

The former Everton and Sunderland man had his contract renewed recently and has signed up for another season. Not only does he bring with him top flight experience, but he is also seen as a handy utility player, capable of playing in both defence and midfield.

He is likely to appear at some point with so many first team players away. He featured just twice last season, starting the FA Cup third round match at home to AFC Fylde and coming on in the second half of the Premier League match at Burnley.

He could well get an extended run in these next two matches and an opportunity to impress.

Kean Bryan’s future is up in the air.

The defender, signed from Man City in 2018, has not managed to force his way into the first team. He is yet to make a league appearance and has started just four cup games.

He spent the second half of last season on loan at Bolton and is in the final year of his contract.

If Jack O’Connell does not make it, Bryan could well feature at Pride Park.

He is not likely to play in the Premier League this season, but could offer Wilder a timely reminder of his ability.

However, if his future does lie elsewhere this could be his chance to put himself in the shop window. Either way, Bryan should be keen to impress if given the chance.

Lys Mousset faces a big season at Bramall Lane.

An inconsistent second half to United’s last campaign left Wilder frustrated. The manager revealed his desire to see him return to his best form after welcoming him to the club’s training base at Edinburgh last week.

Mousset was one of three players who arrived late to the camp and is behind slightly with his fitness and faces only a short amount of time to get himself ready for the visit of Wolves.

With David McGoldrick and Callum Robinson away with Ireland and Oli McBurnie pulling out of the Scotland squad through injury yesterday, Mousset looks almost certain to start alongside Sharp.

Wilder said in Scotland that as much as he wants to see the old Mousset back, he has to ‘want to come to the table too’.

This is his chance and he needs to grab it with both hands.

Regan Slater could well feature, too.

The 20-year-old Sheffield-born United fan played the first half of the abandoned game at Tannadice in the absence of George Baldock at right wing-back and did really well.

A midfielder by trade, he came on for Baldock with 20 minutes to go against Hearts in the training match last Friday and with Lundstram’s availability not known, Fleck and Berge away and with no cover yet for Baldock, he could well find himself on the Pride Park pitch either in the centre or replacing Baldock late on.

Antwoine Hackford, who came on for 10 minutes against Hearts, could well feature.

Only 16, the striker is an exciting talent and is highly rated at the club as one for the future.

John Egan celebrates scoring for Sheffield United

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With only Sharp and Mousset as recognised strikers in the squad for tomorrow, Hackford could well play some part and be given more than the 10 minutes he had on Friday.

This could be a great chance for the youngster to gain some valuable experience against a strong defence.

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