Sheffield United: Wilson ready for Cherries test

Richard Cresswell celebrates
Richard Cresswell celebrates

IT promises to be a League One classic, writes James Shield.

Two teams jostling for position at the top of the table. Members of the establishment versus nouveau riche.

But Danny Wilson has no interest in stoking the fires surrounding tomorrow’s meeting with AFC Bournemouth. The Sheffield United manager simply wants his team’s football to speak for itself.

“Bournemouth are very good, they’ve got some great players and they’re very offensive minded,” Wilson said. “But so are we.

“It’s going to be a tough game but we fancy our chances greatly.

“We’re on a good run of form and we want to maintain that. Play the way that we know and have shown we can play.”

Nevertheless, despite his placid performance during yesterday’s media briefing, Wilson is not averse to picking holes in the opposition armoury.

Bournemouth, now bankrolled by billionaire Maxim Demin, were among the former Northern Ireland international’s pre-season tips to challenge for promotion.

But while a suffocating cloud of expectation hangs permanently above Bramall Lane, at Goldsands Stadium, where Eddie Howe’s side have won two of their last four matches, sporting success is still a relatively new concept.

After all, until the Russian petrochemicals trader bought a seat at the boardroom table, Bournemouth had become more used to flirting with administration.

“I’m not here to say they’ve spent all this money,” Wilson continued. “They’ve spent this and that and blah, blah, blah.

“They’ve spent it wisely but with spending that money comes expectation.”

Demin might prefer to keep a low profile but, with Matt Ritchie and Ryan Fraser arriving on the south coast in recent months, the effect of his roubles is starkly apparent.

An influx of fresh talent, combined with the return of some experienced campaigners, has also reinvigorated United’s season and means both club’s margin for error is uncomfortably slim.

No team in the competition has created more goals from set-pieces than Bournemouth this term. Only Coventry City have taken more shots and Yeovil Town scored more goals from inside the penalty box.

United, who have conceded more fouls than any of their rivals, are adept at finding the back of the opposition net from long-range.

With only one point and two places separating his squad from Bournemouth in the table, Wilson said: “Win, lose or draw, we aren’t going to get caught-up in any hype.

“Things are so tight that one single result on it’s own is not going to make a massive difference. What you have got to do is start stacking them up.

“There are 11, 12, 13 other teams that we want to try and beat. All we are doing is staying focused on ourselves.

“But, if we do win down there, then of course it will be another confidence boost.”

United, Wilson acknowledged, will probably have to try and do so without Jonathan Forte who sustained a groin strain during the recent victory over Bury.

That win, combined with triumphs over Shrewsbury and Colchester, means United travel to Dorset fourth in the rankings; within touching distance of leaders Swindon Town but only three points ahead of seventh placed Brentford.

“Jonno is looking very doubtful for the weekend,” Wilson said. “He’s still got the groin problem and we are preparing to be without him.

“But of course you never know. We’ll see how he is closer to the game.

“If he doesn’t make this one then hopefully he might be okay for Tuesday (against Leyton Orient) but we’ll have to find out.

“If Jonno is missing then, yes, it’s a bit of a blow because we brought him in on loan (from Southampton) for a reason.

“But, the good thing is, apart from that we are okay. Apart from the long-term absentees of course.”

Bournemouth, beaten 5-3 at Bramall Lane in September, will be without captain Miles Addison for the rest of the season after the defender was informed he required surgery to correct a persistent foot injury.

*Twitter: JamesShield1