Date: 17th October 2008 at 1:09pm
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The time has come, the match all Wednesday fans have been looking forward to since the fixtures were announced over the summer, the time to put league form to one side for one cup-style match will give the bragging rights to either the blue and white side or the red and white side of Sheffield until the next time. Let’s hope it’s the blue and white side…

Wednesday enjoyed the upper hand over the Blades last season, a comfortable victory on home soil, partly thanks to the heroics of Bryan Robson, mainly due to Wednesday simply out-battling and out-classing their opponents from the ‘other side’.

A victory at Sheffield’s second-biggest stadium should have soon followed at Bramall Lane, only for their star-man Beattie to spoil the party.

One-man team? Of course not, or at least that’s what Kevin Blackwell will be hoping to do when he looks to restore some pride following the Steel City derby clashes of last season.

Either way, it’s going to be a battle royale, bring it on!

Vital Quotes:

Brian Laws told the Sheffield Star:

‘Players were up for last season’s derbies, and they’re up for this one.

‘Every players wants to be a part of this game; everybody is pushing to be fit and ready.

‘There’s a great incentive for us. We have an opportunity to overtake United.’

Lee Grant told the official SWFC website:

‘We have already shown that we can compete with the best teams in this division on our day.

‘We know what to expect from Sheffield United, they are big, they are physical. They have a good squad of players, but likewise so have we.

‘We have players to match any squad in the Championship.’

Sean McAllister told the Sheffield Star:

‘We’ll want to keep the game tight. We’ve got a good record at home. Hopefully we can keep that going.

‘We have done well so far, with the crowd behind us. They’ll be there again on Sunday.; they’re always great.

‘This is a derby. It should be interesting. I can’t wait.’

Wednesday Team News:

With a number of injury concerns easing for Owls’ boss Brian Laws, the Wednesday gaffer will have a number of ‘welcome’ selection headaches for the first derby clash of the season.

Richard Wood is all set to return at the back, but Tommy Spurr is still highly doubtful to return after picking up an injury in the defeat at Plymouth last time out.

But Laws has brought Lewis Buxton in on loan from Stoke City, and the versatile defender could well go straight in to the starting eleven at left-back with Peter Gilbert still rated as 50/50 after missing out at Home Park through injury.

Akpo Sodje, a goalscorer in last season’s victory over the Blades at Hillsborough, is also in the frame to return, but Laws could well see it come too soon for the powerful striker, although a place on the bench isn’t out of the question.

Francis Jeffers could well make his first start of the season in the most important match of the season after keeping up his return to full fitness with a number of first team substitute appearances, culminating in a 45 minute showing at Plymouth two weeks ago.

There will also be selection headaches in the Owls midfield, with Wade Small, Etienne Esajas and Jermaine Johnson seemingly battling for palces on the wings, though it’s likely Laws will go with Johnson and Esajas on Sunday.

Player to watch: Francis Jeffers

Jeffers’ return to first team action in a regular match would see an added interest from the Wednesday faithful, but to return against the Blades, and have the chance to bag the winning goals will give Jeffers added incentive to impress should he make his first start of the season on Sunday, and in front of the Sky cameras too.

United Team News:

United have boosted their ranks ahead of the trip to S6 with the loan signing of Sunderland striker Anthony Stokes on a three-month loan deal.

The former Arsenal youth product is expected to go straight in to the squad for Sunday’s Steel City derby and could well go straight in to the starting line-up to try and make an immediate name for himself with the Blades faithful, and also impress Black Cats’ boss Roy Keane on live TV.

Stokes’ arrival could soften the blow should Darius Henderson fail to be passed fit for the clash, while Chris Morgan and Nick Montgomery have both been passed fit for the match.

Player to watch: James Beattie

The obvious choice for the player to watch and the obvious star man in the Blades camp, who will no doubt be wanting to score the winning goal for the Blades this time around rather than bagging a late leveller. Will be a handful for the Owls defence, no doubt.

Match Facts & Stats

Head-To-Head:

Wednesday wins: 38
United wins: 44
Draws: 38

Last Time Out:

United 2-2 Wednesday

Bramall Lane, 08/04/2008

Wednesday looked to be heading towards their second derby victory of the season at Bramall Lane thanks to a brace of goals from loanee Adam Bolder. But an unfortunate own goal from Richard Wood just after the hour mark and a late James Beattie strike rescued a point for the Blades.

Previous Line-Ups:

Wednesday: Grant, McMahon, Beevers, Watson, Spurr, Small (Jeffers 46), O’Connor, McAllister, Esajas (Johnson 46), Burton (Smith 56), Tudgay. Subs Not Used: O’Donnell, Clarke.

United: Kenny, Naughton, Morgan, Kilgallon, Naysmith, Halford (Ehiogu 89), Speed, Quinn, Webber (Montgomery 75), Beattie (Henderson 78), Sharp. Subs Not Used: Hendrie, Dyer.

Next Fixtures:

v Barnsley (A) – 21/10/08

v Birmingham City (A) – 25/10/08

v Plymouth Argyle (H) – 28/10/08