Sheffield United: Frustrated manager wants top-level talks following latest refereeing controversy

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Sheffield United: Billy Sharp’s return date set as striker suffers another…

Speaking after watching Morgan Gibbs-White disallow an obvious penalty in last weekend’s goalless draw with AFC Bournemouth, Heckingbottom told The Star he would approach key officials for talks to get to the bottom of the problem.

If this request is granted, Heckingbottom could also invite them to visit United’s training complex before the end of the season to speak with members of his coaching and first-team squad.

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Confirming that he had demanded an explanation from Dean Whitestone, who oversaw the encounter with Scott Parker’s team, as to why Nathaniel Phillips’ foul on Gibbs-White went unpunished, Heckingbottom said: “I want to talk to someone. I want to chat with someone and then let them in.

“All you can do is try to figure out what’s going on. Clearly I’m frustrated and not happy about it.

“But I also want to try to be constructive. We can’t do anything about it now and, in a sense, we have to move on. But I also want to try to get to the bottom of things, to see if there’s something we should or shouldn’t do.

Sheffield United, including Morgan Gibbs-White (centre), were left frustrated by match officials during their game against AFC Bournemouth: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Parker also admitted that Phillips “probably escaped one” following his poor challenge against the United midfielder who escaped censorship. Although Whitestone’s view of the incident may have been hindered, Gibbs-White seemed incredulous that none of his aides seemed to have noticed either.

Heckingbottom, who also argued United had two goals wrongfully disallowed in their recent stalemate with Blackpool, continued: “I went in (to see Whitestone), yes. But what can we do about it? Come on tell me ?

“I’m not talking about the reports, because we just tend to get goodwill in return. That’s why I want to talk to someone.

Referee Dean Whitestone knocks Sheffield United’s Filip Uremovic off the pitch in the draw with AFC Bournemouth: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

With five regular season matches remaining, United are sixth in the Championship standings heading into Friday’s game against Reading. They then travel to Bristol City on Easter Monday, before hosting Cardiff City at Bramall Lane. Captain Billy Sharp is expected to be available for selection when Steve Morison’s men travel to South Yorkshire, having made progress in his battle to recover from a hamstring injury.

Heckingbottom explained Sharp underwent another scan ahead of the clash with second-placed Bournemouth as United sought a ‘third opinion’ from doctors.

“It came back exactly as we thought it would,” he said, describing the results as a positive development. “It basically confirmed what we thought was going on.”

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom wants to speak with key officials: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

United were the dominant force for long periods of their competition against a Bournemouth side, Heckingbottom later predicted they were destined to win automatic promotion. Their keeper Mark Travers made two superb saves to deny Gibbs-White, while Filip Uremovic, producing another commanding defensive display, missed a chance for the victory in injury time.

“The penalty, I saw it back and it’s worse than I thought at the start,” Heckingbottom said. “I thought we did our job well and you just want others to do their job too. I am not talking about faults, because they can be debatable. I’m talking about black and white, blatant.

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