IT’s here – and it’s been billed as the biggest Steel City derby match since Wembley 1993.
Not only is local pride at stake for both sets of fans, but for Wednesday a win is much-needed to go some way to helping them play their Bramall Lane neighbours in the Championship next season.
In it’s own right it’s a huge match in the battle against relegation, adding United into the mix just spices it up that bit extra.
A full house is expected at Hillsborough for the clash, and Wednesday will need to go a long way to live up to the loyalty of their support to bag the three points tomorrow.
Marcus Tudgay told the official SWFC website:
‘This is a special game because it’s against Sheffield United so we’ll be going out ready for battle.
‘We won’t be going out there ruthlessly, we’ll approach the game the correct way and hopefully that will see us over the finish line with three points. It’s important we keep focussed and keep cool heads because we don’t want to pick up silly bookings or red cards but we’ll certainly give everything we’ve got.’
Former United player Keith Edwards told the official SUFC website:
‘Obviously, getting the first goal will always have a great influence on how the match unfolds and will instil massive confidence in whoever gets it, but, that apart, the team that settles quickest will usually relax quicker and go on to win.
‘If both teams could achieve that then it really would be a good derby. But the fact that there is always a fantastic atmosphere increases the pressure on the players and can often make the game a bit too tense to be a classic.’
Wednesday Team News:
Wednesday boss Alan Irvine will be sweating over the fitness of jet-heeled forward Jermaine Johnson ahead of Sunday’s huge clash at S6.
Johnson played at Middlesbrough last weekend but is still working his way back to full fitness following a spell on the sidelines through injury.
It’s hoped that his outing at the Riverside Stadium didn’t take too much from his tank ahead of a derby clash that he usually excels in.
Johnson is expected to start to give Wednesday a huge boost could well be hauled off before the end of the match due to his fitness concerns.
Leon Clarke is also set to return after picking up an injury in the warm-up to last weekend’s 1-0 defeat at Boro.
Clarke could well be pushing for a starting role but Irvine could well be tempted to stick with the same eleven that feature in Teeside.
Sean McAllister will be another player pushing for a call-up after returning from injury.
Player to watch: Jermaine Johnson
Wednesday look worryingly bland without the Jamaican in their attack and Wednesdayites will be keeping everything crossed that he’s fit and ready for Sunday. Johnson has scared United’s defence before and he’ll be as desperate as ever to do it again this time.
United Team News:
Former Owl Richard Cresswell will return to Hillsborough looking to score on his return and leave Wednesday in the thick of relegation trouble with his new club.
It’s not often that players make the cross over, and Cresswell will no doubt get some stick from the Owls faithful, especially with his spell at Leeds United thrown into the mixer.
Goalkeeper Steve Simonsen will play his final game on loan from Stoke City for United, and what a game to play in. He’ll return to Stoke City after the match as Paddy Kenny returns from a drugs ban.
United have no fresh injury or suspension concerns for the clash and boss Kevin Blackwell could stick with the same eleven that saw Coventry City off 1-0 last time out.
Player to watch: Richard Cresswell
Cresswell scored the winner for the Blades against Coventry last time out but he’ll be desperate to bag the winner on his return to former club Wednesday. He’ll be a test for the Owls defence alongside Darius Henderson in attack for the visitors.
Match Facts & Stats
Wednesday wins: 40
Blades wins: 45
Last Time Out:
United 3-2 Wednesday
Bramall Lane, 18/9/09
United bagged the first bragging rights of the season in a thriller at Bramall Lane back in September. Goals from Jamie Ward, Darius Henderson and a Lewis Buxton own goal saw the hosts coast into a 3-0 lead at half-time. But the Owls battled back with Marcus Tudgay pulling a goal back and Etienne Esajas also smashing home a superb free-kick but it wasn’t to be for Brian Laws and his men.
v Cardiff City (A) – 24/4/10
v Crystal Palace (H) – 2/5/10