Defender Richard Stearman is happy to play the role of elder statesman as Sheffield United attempt to fight on two fronts.
The 32-year-old will hope for just a second appearance of the season when the Blades welcome League One Sunderland to Bramall Lane on Wednesday evening with a place in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup at stake.
With Republic of Ireland international John Egan having established himself in manager Chris Wilder’s Premier League starting line-up, Stearman and 37-year-old Phil Jagielka have found themselves playing supporting roles and the former, while desperate to be involved, has no problem with that.
He told a press conference: “I want to set a good example. It’s a role I’ve taken on more recently in my career and certainly last season.
“I haven’t played as much as I’d have liked, but I’m professional enough to know my role and help when I can.
“With Jags as well, we’ve both played a lot of Premier League football between us and where we can help out, we try to do so.
“We’re here to win games as a team, not as individuals. I enjoy helping out, I thrive upon the role and I feel I do it quite well.”
Sheffield United currently sit in 10th place after Saturday’s fine 2-0 win at Everton and will welcome European Champions Liverpool to South Yorkshire at the weekend, with Wilder attempting to strike a balance as he prepares for the midweek cup tie.
He will be without strikers David McGoldrick because of injury and Billy Sharp through suspension, and has signalled his intention to have a look at some of his fringe players against the Black Cats.
Jack Ross’ men dumped top flight Burnley out of the competition in the last round and Wilder is expecting a tough test.
He said: “As they did in the last round, they will want to cause an upset. They have a lot of good players and a talented manager who did well up the road before they came within a whisker of promotion last season.
“It’s a powerful football club and I’m sure one that will come close to getting out of the division.”
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