Clough rubbishes Clarke links but wants three new players before derby clash, while Harry relishes Hanson challenge

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Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough remains confident of bolstering his squad before Saturday’s Yorkshire derby against Bradford City.

Clough used his pre-match media briefing to reveal that he is in the hunt for a “defender, a midfielder and a striker” - although he insists hitman Leon Clarke, who wants to engineer a move away from Coventry City, is not on his wish-list.

And Clough’s decision to allow Febian Brandy to return to former club Walsall on loan until the rest of the season - with Florent Cuvelier also shortly expected to leave Bramall Lane on a temporary basis - suggests that the United manager is confident of arrivals before Saturday’s visit of Phil Parkinson’s Bantams.

After three successive away games, at Walsall, Aston Villa and Notts County, United return to their Bramall Lane headquarters for the first time in 2014 on Saturday, and defender Harry Maguire said: “It will be nice to get back to Bramall Lane, and I’m sure our supporters will be out in force for a crucial game like this.

“They have backed us in unbelievable numbers away from Bramall Lane this season, and the lads know that this is a game we need to win so we don’t get sucked back into relegation trouble.

“Ideally, we want to start looking up the table, instead of over our shoulders.

“But, of course, for that to happen, we need to string a couple of victories together quickly.”

After the departure of Nakhi Wells to Huddersfield, much of Bradford’s goalscoring threat rests upon the shoulders of James Hanson, the 6ft 4in former Co-op worker whose goal sent the Bantams to the Capital One Cup final last year.

Hanson has netted seven League One goals so far this term - including an early opener in Bradford’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City last weekend.

But 20-year-old defender Maguire, who has been handed the unenviable task of marking the likes of Villa’s Christian Benteke and Enoch Showunmi of Notts County in recent weeks, is relishing the challenge.

“James is one of the most effective strikers in the division,” Maguire, who has faced the giant striker twice in his fledgling career, said.

“He’s a difficult opponent to face, of course, and a real handful. “But I enjoy a physical battle, and the way we defended at Villa gave me a lot of confidence, personally.

“They obviously won’t be able to call upon Nakhi at the weekend, but we will still have to be at our best to get the much needed win.”

n United, meanwhile, have announced ticket details for their FA Cup fourth round clash against Fulham at Bramall Lane.

Adult tickets for the game are £15, with season ticket holders and concessions admitted for £10. Under 16 tickets are £5.

The game, which will be shown live on BT Sport, kicks off at 1pm on Sunday, January 26.