Sheffield United: An encouraging update on Manchester City midfielder

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Sheffield United: What we learned at Barnsley, as Championship opener with Watfo…

Despite missing all of the Championship club’s warm-up programme and also being ruled-out of next Monday’s game against Watford, Doyle began “working back on the grass” ahead of Saturday’s friendly at Barnsley according to manager Paul Heckingbottom.

Together with captain Billy Sharp and fellow striker Oli McBurnie, the 20-year-old will now begin following a tailor-made fitness programme devised by head of performance Tom Little and members of Bramall Lane’s conditioning department in order to accelerate his return to action.

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“Tommy, he was working back in the grass this morning,” Heckingbottom said, following the match at Oakwell. “Obviously he’s disappointed not to have been involved but he’s still putting everything in he can.

“Now what we’ll do is get him on his own course, to get him back as quickly as possible but also to make sure that he’s right.”

United were beaten 2-1 by their South Yorkshire neighbours, despite taking the lead on the stroke of half-time when Robbie Cundy, under pressure from Rhian Brewster, turned the ball into his own net.

Sheffield United loanee Tommy Doyle (right) with Daniel Jebbison

Jack Aitchison drew the hosts level before Josh Benson’s exquisite free-kick condemned Heckingbottom’s side to defeat.

With Doyle ruled-out and United selecting an entirely different starting eleven to the one which faced Burton Albion less than 24 hours earlier, Heckingbottom used the meeting with his hometown club to experiment with a different shape in the centre of the park. Ben Osborn, rather than Sander Berge, spent long periods of the contest supporting Brewster and Iliman Ndiaye before the Norway international edged forward during the closing stages, striking a post after the break.

Doyle, who completed spells with Hamburg and Cardiff City last term, is expected to become an influential player for United as they chase a return to the Premier League. Sharp, who missed May’s play-off semi-final defeat to Nottingham Forest with a calf problem, is also making progress to recover from a calf complaint.

Confirming he is likely to become available for selection before McBurnie, Heckingbottom said: “He’s a little bit behind Billy but, again, he’s doing what he needs to and is coming on.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom talks to his squad

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