Why Sheffield United should move for Darragh Lenihan in January
According to The Guardian, Sheffield United have been credited with an interest in Blackburn Rovers centre-back Darragh Lenihan, with Chris Wilder keen to add more depth to his ranks during the mid-season trading period.
As per the report, Blades boss Wilder holds a long-standing interest in the 25-year-old Irishman, while Nottingham Forest academy graduate Joe Worrall has also been linked with a move to Bramall Lane in recent weeks.
Born in Dunboyne, Ireland, Lenihan started his footballing education at Belvedere in his homeland before moving across the border to join Blackburn Rovers back in 2011 and has since progressed by leaps and bounds to establish himself as one of the best central defenders in the Championship.
The 25-year-old, who has been capped twice by the Republic of Ireland at the senior level, boasts of 147 appearances for Blackburn across all competitions.
Lenihan has been one of the key cogs of the club’s backline for a number of years now and has further enhanced his reputation as a commanding presence at the heart of the defence at Ewood Park this term.
Lenihan has started 20 out of 26 games for Tony Mowbray’s side so far in the Championship, turning in some impressive displays to keep the club within touching distance of the division’s top-six.
Bradley Dack and Adam Armstrong have stolen most of the limelight with their goal contributions but Lenihan’s defensive pairing with his compatriot, Derrick Williams, has been equally instrumental in Blackburn’s surge for the playoffs.
Meanwhile, Sheffield United have already exceeded all expectations in the Premier League since their return to the top-flight this term, with the Blades currently placed 8th in the standings following an impressive run of form in the first half of the campaign.
There is still a long way to go, with fixtures set to come thick and fast during the second half of the season, but the Blades could well go on to emulate the heroics of Wolves last season if they manage to keep up their good work.
As evident from a defensive record of 21 goals conceded in 21 games so far, stability at the back has been one of the hallmarks of Sheffield United’s fairytale run in the Premier League this season, whilst a scoring record of just 23 goals is something that they should surely look to improve on in the coming months.
With that in mind, however, the Blades are pretty well stocked in their options up top and Wilder might be better off looking at the possibility of bringing in some reinforcements in other areas of the pitch given that he has been forced to rely on the same set of players week in, week out.
While there has been marked rotation in front of goal and also in the middle of the park, United have fielded the same back-three of Jack O’Connell, Chris Basham and John Egan in almost all of their fixtures so far.
Indeed, the likes of Basham, Egan and O’Connell have all been quite brilliant this season but Wilder could find himself in a spot of bother if either of the three regular central defenders gets sidelined with an injury in the coming months.
It is clear that United don’t have enough depth in their defensive ranks and a potential injury crisis at the back during the second half of the season could lead to the undoing of all their hard work in the Premier League so far.
With that in mind, the Blades need to add more depth to their options at the back and Darragh Lenihan certainly looks capable of making the step up to the Premier League, having already racked up 120 league appearances for Rovers and proven his worth as a dominating defender in the second-tier.
As per Whoscored, Lenihan averages 54.3 passes per game at an accuracy of 78.3%, including 3.9 long balls, 5.1 aerial duels, 4.4 clearances, 0.9 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game in the Championship this term, figures which speak volumes of his physicality, aerial prowess and game-reading skills as a centre-back.
On top of that, Lenihan still has plenty of time to make significant adjustments to his game to match the demands of playing in the top-flight and Wilder, who has built a team largely around homegrown players, could be the man to maximize the Irishman’s potential.
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Having said that, Sheffield United completing a move for Darragh Lenihan could possibly add more depth and quality to their already water-tight backline.