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Football | John Egan proving crucial at both ends of the pitch

John Egan goals are like Dublin buses. You wait an eternity for one to come along, and then two arrive at once.

The Sheffield United centre back has won plenty of plaudits for his performances at the heart of the Blades' defence, but it is at the other end of the pitch that Egan has been making his biggest contributions in recent weeks.

Sheffield have roared back to life following their post-lockdown Premier League slump, which saw them produce a scoreless draw against Aston Villa and suffer a surprise 3-0 defeat to Newcastle.

An impressive 3-1 win against Spurs marked a return to pre-coronavirus form, and the Blades have produced two important results since then, due in large part to Egan's heroics.

Last week, the 27-year-old scored his first-ever Premier League goal with an excellent finish against Burnley, earning Chris Wilder's travelling Blades a crucial point at Turf Moor.

The Clarets took the lead in the first half through defender James Tarkowski, who directed a flick-on from a free kick into the bottom corner with an outstretched foot.

10 minutes from time, a superb finish from Egan drew Sheffield level.

The Cork native ghosted in at the back post following a short corner, meeting Billy Sharp's header with a wonderful rising volley with the outside of his right boot, which flew past Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope into the far top corner.

It was only Egan's second goal for the club, having netted in the Championship in August 2019, and he has now scored in each of England's top four divisions.

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A win for Sean Dyche's Burnley would have seen the home side leapfrog Sheffield into eighth place, but Egan's late leveller ensured Wilder's men maintained their grip on which could be good enough to secure European football next season.

Things got even better for Egan - who has won just two Irish caps to date - and the Blades on Wednesday night.

Sheffield entered their clash against Wolves at Bramall Lane in ninth place in the table, three places and four points behind Nuno Espirito Santo's visitors, who are also chasing European qualification.

There was little to separate the rivals in the Yorkshire rain, with Egan grabbing the only goal of the game in the third minute of second-half stoppage time.

The Republic of Ireland defender rose highest in the box to meet Oliver Norwood's corner, powering an excellent header past Rui Patricio at the death.

https://twitter.com/SkySportsPL/status/1280944721658105862

Cue wild celebrations on the pitch and on the sideline, with Wilder later joking he pulled his calf following Egan's last-gasp header.

"I've battered him (Egan) for not scoring, but he has got two in two - the 10 goals he should be getting are a bit beyond him," he laughed.

Egan was also imperious in defence for the home side, winning 70% of his duels, making two tackles, two clearances and maintaining a healthy passing accuracy of 78% (BBC Sport).

The vital win lifts Sheffield - who boast a strong contingent of Irish players including Enda Stevens and David McGoldrick - up two places to seventh in the table, just one point behind Wolves with four games remaining.

Sheffield are now unbeaten in their last five home league games, and have won three home matches in a row for the first time since August 1993.

Five of the Blades' past 10 Premier League goals have been scored from corners, with the last two being netted by Egan.

In their first season back in the top flight following last season's promotion from the Championship, Wilder's team are in a strong position to qualify for a European competition for the first time in their history.

From an Irish perspective, expect to see Egan add to his surprisingly low tally of international caps.

Stephen Kenny has heaped praise on the Irish defender, who is poised to partner Shane Duffy at centre back for the Boys in Green moving forward.

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