This is it, the big one…again, the chance for either the red and white side of the city to enjoy the bragging rights on Wednesday morning, or the blue and white side.
But it’s not just your average Steel City Derby, it’s much more than that, for Wednesday in particular – with the clash the Owls’ game in hand on most of the teams around them in the relegation scrap.
A victory at Bramall Lane, for the first time in years, would give Wednesday a huge boost in their battle against the drop – something which has a much bigger priority than simply three points against Kevin Blackwell’s troops.
The Blades too have something to aim for other than bragging rights, with former assistant boss Blackwell returning to Bramall Lane to help steer the Blades towards the play-offs after a disastrous spell at the helm by Bryon Robson – who oversaw the Blades’ 2-0 defeat at Hillsborough earlier in the season.
Let battle commence…
Owls’ captain Richard Wood told the official Wednesday website:
‘We dominated them at Hillsborough so they’ll be out for revenge but we’re full of confidence right now.
‘The lads can’t wait to get to get out there. I know we have a few players out but we still have the quality to keep United at bay and get a result.’
‘…Beattie is a quality striker so we need to be on our toes but we’ve been on a great run defensively, although it’s no secret we need a win. If we can get that against United, we’ll be buzzing for the rest of the season.’
Blades’ boss Kevin Blackwell told the official Blades website:
‘It is a game that you shouldn’t need to talk up. I will walk in on Tuesday and shouldn’t have to say anything… but try keeping me quiet! I will be at them.
‘We have a job to do, we have two massive teams in this city and one has to be on top and we want that to be us.’
‘…There was an interesting comment from one of the players at Barnsley the other week who said he didn’t want the lads to feel like they did after the game at Hillsborough so they know. I might remind them about that.’
United Team News:
Rob Hulse and Paddy Kenny will both be itching to get back in the red and white shirt for the big match after missing out in the 3-0 win over Leicester City at the weekend due to injury.
Kenny was replaced by Ian Bennett at the weekend, who kept a clean sheet against the Owls’ relegation rivals, although should Kenny fit and ready for the visit of the Owls, he’ll be keen to taek the number one spot from Bennett, and Blackwell is sure to agree should he pass a late fitness test.
But Blackwell could decide against including dangerman Hulse should the former Leeds United man regain full fitness.
James Beattie came back in to the side to replace Hulse at the weekend, and promptly bagged a hat-trick in the first half, and is a certain starter on Tuesday night.
Billy Sharp will also be desperate to start, not only as a boyhood Blades’ fan, but also because he was subject to interest from Wednesday in the pre-season but opted for a move to Bramall Lane instead.
And Blackwell is sure to recognise Sharp’s need to play in the game, and is likely to stick with the same front two that destroyed the Foxes at the weekend.
Other than that, Blackwell should keep the rest of his side in tact following their improved form of late, with no fresh injury concerns going in to the clash.
Player to watch: James Beattie
It goes without saying really doesn’t it? A Premiership class player playing his trade at a Championship club, who is sure to be snapped up by a top-flight outfit next season. Without Beattie’s goals the Blades could well be in the same trouble as Wednesday, and he’s sure to be the biggest threat on Tuesday night.
Wednesday Team News:
Where do you start? Brian Laws’ preparations for the big Steel City clahs haven’t exactly been ideal with the treatmeant room filling up week after week.
Franck Songo’o is the latest star to have picked up an injury in the 1-1 draw at Scunthorpe, and as Wednesday’s biggest attacking threat, Laws will be giving the Portsmouth loanee until the last minute to prove his fitness.
Wade Small is another player who took a knock at Glanford Park. The former MK Dons winger only returned from a virus from the bench at the weekend but picked up a niggling injury in the draw, and will also undergo a late fitness test.
Mark Beevers missed out in the warm-up to the Scunthorpe match and is another who will be undergoing a late test, but Laws will be hoping his star of the future comes through to mirror his performance in the return clash at Hillsborough which saw Wednesday run out 2-0 winners.
Deon Burton and Ben Sahar have both started up front in recent matches, with the latter bagging the leveller at the weekend, though Bartosz Slusarski will be pushing for his first start following his loan move from West Brom.
The list continues – Richard Hinds, a die hard Owl, will have a late fitness test in the hope of featuring, although Steve Watson could continue at right-back.
Frank Simek, Francis Jeffers, Sean McAllister, Marcus Tudgay, Lee Bullen, Leon Clarke, Etienne Esajas and Akpo Sodje are all still sidelined.
Player to watch: Franck Songo’o
Wednesday may be look towards Richard Wood in the heart of the Owls defence to help keep out the Blades attack, but attack could well be the best form of defence for Wednesday, and in Franck Songo’o they have a man capable of causing problems to any Championship defence, lets hope he’s fit eh?
Match Facts & Stats
United wins: 44
Wednesday wins: 38
Last Time Out:
Wednesday 2-0 United
Wednesday dominated the Blades from start to finish in the first Steel City derby of the season with saw the hosts take all the spoils in front of the TV cameras. Akpo Sodje set the ball rolling to put Wednesday in front before Marcus Tudgay wrapped up the victory with 15 minutes to go as the blue and white half of the city took the bragging rights for the time being at least.
United: Bennett, Naysmith, Halls, Ehiogu, Kilgallon, Cotterill (Gillespie 86), Speed, Tonge (Law 89), Quinn, Beattie (Stead 67), Sharp.
Subs Not Used: Carney, Geary.
Wednesday: Grant, Gilbert, Wood, Spurr, Bolder, Burton, Watson, Johnson, Sahar (Slusarski 66), Songo’o (Small 34), Kavanagh.
Subs Not Used: McMenamin, Wallwork, Burch.
v Plymouth Argyle (H) – 14/04/08
v Blackpool (A) – 19/04/08