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A Championship duo to sharpen the Blades attack

Gustavo Hamer and Cameron Archer
Gustavo Hamer and Cameron Archer

Joe Bradshaw, BBC Sport

On last season’s evidence, any scout with even a cursory knowledge of Championship football would have had Coventry’s Gustavo Hamer and Middlesbrough’s Cameron Archer on their watchlist.

In their own ways, the duo were spearheading their side’s promotion push. Archer fired 11 goals and six assists in 20 games on loan from Aston Villa, while Hamer’s nudge forward from holding midfielder to the centre of the park resulted in three goals and four assists in the final five games, including two in their run to the play-off final.

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom therefore knew exactly what he was getting when he signed them, replacements for the departed talismanic pair of Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge, and tasked with keeping the Blades afloat in the Premier League.

Can they do it? After all, United have splashed big bucks before on a striker who looked good on loan in the Championship – see Rhian Brewster – only for the move to flounder in the pressure cooker of the Premier League.

Archer made a fine impression on debut, showing all of his predatory movement and lethal finishing to score the first goal against Everton. He was unfortunate not to make it a double, but at least his shot off the woodwork bounced off Jordan Pickford and into the net.

He is a bit slighter than Ndiaye and five inches shorter than partner Oli McBurnie, but he is a stealthy operator, more of a poacher than someone to create his own chances. With the right supply line, he could provide the sharp point for this in-need Blades attack.

That could come from Hamer, who racked up 24 assists in 132 games at Coventry (roughly one every three games) and at 26 has developed into a mature and skilful presence in the middle of the park.

His performances in the Championship rightly earned him his opportunity in the Premier League and he will no doubt have his eye on a call-up to the Netherlands senior squad.

Energetic, creative and combative, he has made his presence felt in his first three games but Heckingbottom will be hoping he can seize hold of games the way he did for the Sky Blues last season.

It will be a tough ask at Saturday’s opponents Tottenham who, under Ange Postecoglou, have pressed high and looked to dominate the ball themselves in an opening four games that has yielded 11 goals and 10 points.

For this duo that shone in the Championship, there would be no better way to announce themselves in the Premier League.