Sheffield United: Blades braced for tough test

David Weir expects Raith Rovers to be a tough nut to crack tonight. Picture: Martyn Harrison.
David Weir expects Raith Rovers to be a tough nut to crack tonight. Picture: Martyn Harrison.

David Weir, the Sheffield United manager, has predicted tonight’s visit to Raith Rovers could prove the toughest test of his club’s pre-season programme so far, writes James Shield.

United travel to Stark’s Park hoping to preserve their unbeaten record under the former Scotland international’s tutelage having beaten Greenock Morton before last weekend’s draw at Cowdeneath.

Rovers manager Grant Murray, who like Weir was a member of the Heart of Midlothian squad which beat Glasgow Rangers to win the 1998 SFA Cup final, led the Kirkcaldy based club to a sixth placed finish in the Scottish First Division last term.

“Raith will arguably be a more difficult proposition that Cowdenbeath because they are a full time team,” Weir said. “It’s a good stadium and they’ve been quite active in the transfer market so we know they’ll give us a good run.”

“I know Grant quite well,” Weir added. “I played with him at Tynecastle, just as I did with Colin Cameron who is the manager at Cowdenbeath.

“But that is just a coincidence because the matches were already arranged before I came here. I was just fulfilling the fixtures really.

“They’ve definitely been worthwhile.”

United, who trained at Erskine Bridge base yesterday after visiting Rangers’ Murray Park complex on Monday, continue their preparations for the 2013/14 League One campaign at Bury on Saturday.

Weir has made wholesale changes at half-time during both of his outings at the helm so far and is expected to continue that policy against Rovers before reverting to a more familiar selection policy against Kevin Blackwell’s charges.

Michael Doyle, the United midfielder, could feature despite suffering an injury scare against Cowdenbeath while centre forward Chris Porter will be hoping to continue his scoring streak after netting in both of his previous two appearances.

Doyle completed the penultimate training session of the club’s stay north of the border at their base near Erskine Bridge yesterday.

Weir said: “We want to give everyone exposure to football at this stage. We’ll build up the minutes as we go along to 60, 70 and such like.”

Meanwhile, United legend Tony Currie hosts ‘An Evening With’ at Bramall Lane on Friday.

Tickets priced £20 per person are still available for the event which is designed to raise money for the St Wilfrid’s Centre’s Residential Fund.