Wednesday complete their mammoth week in the Championship with the match of all matches – Sheffield United away in the first Steel City derby clash of the season on Friday night.
Brian Laws led his troops to an historic derby double over Kevin Blackwell’s men last season, Steve Watson bagging the winner in the 1-0 success at Hillsborough before Tommy Spurr and Marcus Tudgay bagged the goals in the 2-1 win at Bramall Lane.
And, although difficult, Wednesday will be looking to repeat that feat this season, although the Blades will be as keen as ever to put the Owls’ recent dominance of Steel City clashes to an end.
Form goes out the window as they say, which is a good job considering both teams suffered defeats last time out…
Let battle commence!
Luke Varney told the Sheffield Star:
‘Sheffield United is a massive game whether or not we’d got three points against Middlesbrough, and we’ll be fired up for it.
‘Three games in six days is a tough ask but we’re delighted to be finishing the week with this one. We’re really looking forward to it, and fatigue won’t count for anything.
‘Sheffield United against Sheffield Wednesday, live on TV…it’s a big occasion and I’m sure we’ll all rise to it.’
Blades boss Kevin Blackwell told the Sheffield Star:
‘People talk about ‘bouncebackability’ and that’s what we want to do now. I shouldn’t have any problems getting the lads up for this one. Everyone knows what it’s all about and what’s at stake.
‘The one thing I can always count on getting from my lads is 100 per cent. That they’ll give absolutely everything and leave nothing out there on the pitch.’
United Team News:
The biggest doubt for the clash for United is that of former Leeds defender Matt Kilgallon’s fitness.
The centre-back missed the Blades clash against Coventry City in midweek with a chest infection, and Blackwell revealed that it would be unlikely that his star centre-back would be available for Friday.
But he hasn’t ruled him out just yet, and it’s amazing what big local derby matches can do for injuries – especially for a player who felt he was harshly sent off in the outing at S6 last season.
Ched Evans, a summer recruit from Manchester City, is expected to return for United, although Kevin Blackwell hinted that he could be forced to delve into the loan market ahead of Friday’s game, although that’s unlikely.
Blackwell should have no fresh injury concerns following the defeat at the Ricoh Arena.
Player to watch: Jamie Ward
Looked like he could well follow Billy Sharp in the panic by category last season, but has improve this term and was United’s star man at Coventry, despite going down to defeat. Will be looking at the Steel City clash, live on television to really show himself to Blades fans to be the real deal.
Wednesday Team News:
Brian Laws has a number of injury doubts at the back that he’ll be looking to give until the last minite.
Richard Wood and Mark Beevers both left the pitch in the Owls last two outings, and Laws is doubtful over both, with Richard Hinds ready to make his first league start of the campaign at Bramall Lane.
Leon Clarke and Akpo Sodje have both showed signs that they’re ready to return to first team action, but Laws is likely to stick with Marcu Tudgay and loan star Luke Varney in attack.
The Owls do have Francis Jeffers back for selection following a three-match ban for his sending-off at Port Vale, though it’s unlikely he’ll be included in the squad.
James O’Connor is also battling for a return to the first team following injury, and should he get the all-clear from the medical staff, he could take the place of Tommy Miller in the heart of the Owls midfield.
Player to watch: Darren Potter
Wednesday will need to win their battles if they’re to come out with anything to show for their efforts, and none more so important than the centre of midfield. Potter has been in good passing form this season, but he’ll also have to win the physical battle on Friday night.
Match Facts & Stats
United wins: 44
Wednesday wins: 40
Last Time Out:
United 1-2 Wednesday
Bramall Lane, 07/02/09
This was the day that made history for Owls fans, completing their first derby double over their fierce rivals for quite some time. Tommy Spurr set the ball rolling with an opener just minutes in, before Arturo Lupoli levelled for the hosts. But Marcus Tudgay was on hand to produce his goal of the season to bag all three points for the Owls – more of the same on Friday night please!
Blades: Bunn, Morgan, Taylor (Stewart ,72), Walker, France, Quinn (Evans ,61), Treacy (Cotterill ,67), Montgomery, Harper, Ward, Henderson. Subs not used: Bennett, Reid, Little.
Wednesday: Grant, Buxton, Spurr, Purse, Beevers (Hinds 45), Johnson, Potter, Miller (McAllister 72), Gray (Clarke 72), Tudgay, Varney. Unused substitutes: O’Donnell, Simek, Esajas, Sodje.
v Cardiff City (H) – 26/09/09
v Crystal Palace (A) – 29/09/09