If Sheffield United are to record their maiden clean sheet in 2014, they know they must shackle James Hanson.
Fresh from finding the back of the net for the first time in nearly three months in last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Bristol City, the big striker is set to spearhead Bradford City’s attack at Bramall Lane this afternoon.
Hanson has netted seven league goals this term and Nigel Clough, the United manager, has warned his back four to keep close tabs on the 26-year-old.
Clough, who has no new injury concerns ahead of the Yorkshire derby, said: “James is obviously a threat. He’s strong in the air and so that’s something we’ll have to be aware of, especially from set-pieces.”
Much of Bradford’s goalscoring danger rests upon the shoulders of Hanson following the recent departure of prolific Bermudian international Nahki Wells to Huddersfield Town.
Clough is relieved United will not have to come face to face with Wells, who grabbed a double when the two sides last met in August.
“I’d rather play Bradford without Nahki than with,” he admitted. “He is a very good goalscorer.
“Nahki was someone that we identified about two or three years ago at Derby County. Andy Garner went and watched him and he said he was a natural finisher and we have kept our eye on him for the last few years.
“We looked at him for a while but, to be honest, the money wasn’t really available to progress it any further. But they’ve brought another player in [Aaron McLean] so they’ll be looking for him to form a good partnership with Hanson.”
McLean, signed for an undisclosed fee from Hull City this week, is expected to go straight into the starting line-up alongside Hanson as the Bantams seek to arrest their slide down the table.
The West Yorkshire club, who gained promotion to the third tier of English football last term via the play-offs, have fallen to 12th following a run of just one victory from their last 15 League One matches.
Clough, who could hand a full debut to loan striker Billy Paynter, said: “What Bradford have done reminds me a little bit of Rotherham in a way.
“It shows what can happen when a club gets some momentum behind it.”