SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades tipped to come back even stronger

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Nick Montgomery could be forgiven for disliking the Play-off system.

In the uncompromising midfielder’s 12 years at Bramall Lane, Sheffield United have reached three finals, losing all three without troubling the score-sheet.

Montgomery is the sole survivor from the 16-man United who travelled to the Millennium Stadium in 2003. He was an unused substitute as Neil Warnock’s men were thumped 3-0 by Wolves.

Six years later, Montgomery started in central midfield when Burnley triumphed 1-0 at the national stadium.

And, after the toughest year of his career as a professional, which saw him briefly move to Millwall on loan, Montgomery stepped into the team at Wembley last month in place of the injured Kevin McDonald as United’s dreams of making an instant return to the Championship ended in the cruelest of fashions when Huddersfield Town defeated Danny Wilson’s men 8-7 on penalties.

Speaking after the all-Yorkshire final with Huddersfield, Montgomery said: “All the lads were devastated. We are all in it together.

“We had a great season but to miss out on penalties is probably the worst way to miss out on promotion. Life moves on and we have to move on as a club.”

Asked if it felt worse than the other two final losses, he said: “It never gets easier. It just gets worse and worse every time. I think if the game had gone on for another two days, I don’t think either team would have scored. It was that sort of game. There were very few chances between two very good teams and unfortunately we missed out.

“We have to come back stronger and go for automatic promotion because we have not been very lucky at all in the play-offs over the past few years.”

Rumour is rife United are in the hunt to sign goalkeeper Dusan Pernis. The Slovakia international is available on a free transfer following the expiry of his contract at Dundee United. Pernis spent two-and-a-half-years on Tayside after joining the club from MSK Zilma. The 27-year-old has impressed north of the border, playing 45 times for United last term as they finished fourth in the Scottish Premier League.

Having axed Steve Simonsen, United chief Danny Wilson may use the transfer market to strengthen the goalkeeping department.

As things stand, he has Mark Howard and youngster George Long fighting for the number one jersey. Pernis was selected by Slovakia joint-coaches Stanislav Griga and Michal Hipp’s in their squads for the friendlies with Poland and Holland. Slovakia lost 1-0 in Austria and 2-0 in Rotterdam respectively.

Bolton Wanderers and Cardiff City are believed to be keeping close tabs on Pernis, who has previously attracted the attention of West Ham and Fulham. Despite interest from clubs in Turkey, Pernis has admitted he wants to test himself in England.

He has recently said: “My preferred option is to stay in the UK. I have some great memories from my time with United and would preferably like to go down to England and have a shot there.

“My family really like the British way of life so that’s where I see my future lying.

“I’m not naive enough to think it’ll definitely happen but we’ll see what happens.”