Tomasson's lowdown on 'quality' Sheffield United defender Ahmedhodžić

·4-min read
Sheffield United defender Anel Ahmedhodžić was a summer transfer target for Rovers
Sheffield United defender Anel Ahmedhodžić was a summer transfer target for Rovers

Jon Dahl Tomasson may be very new to the Championship, but the one player he knows better than any other will be in the Sheffield United side.

Anel Ahmedhodzic was handed his debut at Malmo by Tomasson and was a summer transfer target for Rovers who bid in excess of £3.5m to try and land the Bosnia international defender who opted to join tomorrow’s opponents.

Tomasson wouldn’t be drawn on that interest, but knows the quality of the 23-year-old who will be part of the Blades back three, having scored in their midweek win over Sunderland.

“He’s a good player,” Tomasson said.

“All good players I would like here, not just one.

“I had him at Malmo and he had never really played senior football, he’d been on loan, but I put him in the team immediately because I could see his quality.

“He did a good job at Malmo and is doing a good job at Sheffield United now.”

Rovers head to face a Blades side who finished in the play-offs last season and are expected to be in the promotion picture once again.

They have won each of their two home games to date, and have been strong at Bramall Lane since the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom in November.

Tomasson sees the Blades as an experienced team with players who have developed together for an extended period of time.

“Sheffield United, they’re one of the bigger teams, the bigger squads and should be up there if you look at the level of players, the budget,” he added.

“It’s a good side and we’re looking forward to playing them and doing the right things in the game.

“When you have qualities who have been together for a while, as they have, it means you have connections, relationships on the pitch.

“The combination of playing a quick game, they’re very good at, and creating chances in that.”

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Rovers have some tired legs to contend with but Jon Dahl Tomasson otherwise expects to choose from a similar squad as to the one at Reading.

Bradley Dack was one of three players introduced at half time, his second successive Championship outing on the back of almost completing the full game in the Carabao Cup tie against Hartlepool United.

He hasn’t started a league game since sustaining his most recent ACL injury in March 2020 but is getting close to full match sharpness after missing much of pre-season with an injury.

Tomasson said: “He played longer in the cup and then he sore at the game and he did a good job.

“Slowly, I think he will be able to play more.”

Jack Vale started on the opening day against QPR and was recalled against Reading to lead the line.

However, the Welshman was replaced at half time as part of the half time triple change.

Asked about that, Tomasson said: “I think it’s important when you have youngsters, which we have at the moment, they have to learn a lot.

“That’s why I’m always talking about being ambitious, but patient, and try and develop players but win games.

“It’s important to get minutes at the highest level to get better, otherwise you will never get better.”

One player who has plenty of experience, and won praise for his performances, is Daniel Ayala.

“Daniel has played excellent so far and is an experienced player who can help the team,” Tomasson added.

“The way he’s helped Ash (Phillips), a young boy, I’ve been really impressed. Not just Ayala, but the rest of the team.

“He’s doing a good job I think.”

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Sheffield United will be without experienced striker Billy Sharp against Rovers this afternoon.

Boss Paul Heckingbottom revealed that scans have revealed the damage to Sharp’s ankle during the draw with Middlesbrough earlier this month.

Heckingbottom hasn’t put a specific timeframe on the injury to Sharp, but believes it will be for a significant period of time.

He said: “I was surprised at the damage and he was surprised. It’s about getting him back fit now so he’s out of my thinking until I get told otherwise.

“It’s not ideal but we have to manage it.”

Rhian Brewster got the nod in attack against Sunderland in midweek, with the Blades winning 2-1, but Oli McBurnie is in contention for a recall after coming off the bench in that game.

Former Rovers loanee Reda Khadra is also in Heckingbottom’s thoughts as the Blades look to make it back-to-back wins and maintain a 100 per cent start to the season at Bramall Lane.

Of Rovers, Heckingbottom said: “They’ll be disappointed with the Reading result but they’re top of the league so we know it’ll be tough.

“We know what we’re facing, a team that’ll be trying to go a step further than they did last season and with threats in the team, especially in the front positions.”

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