danny Wilson will this afternoon send out a first-time centre defence partnership into the heat of a South Yorkshire derby at the Keepmoat Stadium where Doncaster Rovers will get the lift from the return of a crowd favourite.
Right back Tony McMahon, back after a ban, is set to fill the centre defence spot vacated by Harry Maguire who serves a one match ban for a fifth booking on Saturday, a decision the Blades boss reckoned, after studying the dvd, the ref got “completely wrong”.
So McMahon will partner Matt Hill, himself deputising for broken cheekbone victim Neill Collins, but Wilson is confident McMahon will handle it.
“He’s played there before at Middlesbrough, he’s an experienced defender and knows what it’s about,” said the Blades manager. “But we’re not about one player but the whole team as a package.
“We’ve done well away from home; so too have Rovers but sometimes at home it can be difficult. Teams set up and you have to break them down and it’s difficult and that’s happened to them this season.”
Wilson says he will be looking to recruit a central defender with Collins sidelined for two months if not more.
Lecsinel Jean-Francois is still several weeks away from fitness. Young central defender Terry Kennedy is in the squad.
Meanwhile, Rovers will have fans’ favourite James Coppinger back in their squad after he returned from his loan at Nottingham Forest. Also available is Iain Hume, unable to play at Preston in Saturday’s 3-0 win.
Rovers boss Dean Saunders has warned his players they could face a backlash from United’s shock home defeat to Hartlepool.
“I’m sure Danny (Wilson) will be looking for a reaction today,” he told The Star.
“They are a solid team and Danny knows the league well. He’s had his budget cut this year but he’s managed to gel the players together. They don’t give a lot of goals away and they’ve not lost many games, though they have drawn quite a few.
“They’ve lost a few players who scored a lot of goals for them last season so they’ve had to tighten up, which they have done.
“Losing top spot on Saturday was a blow for them but they are still the biggest club in this division and they are still the team to beat in my eyes.
“We drew 0-0 at Bramall Lane earlier in the season, which was a good result, and we are going into today’s game in third place, a point off top with a game in hand which is a great position to be in on New Year’s Day.”
Wilson has confirmed that front player Jamie Murphy is set to seal his move to United. They had hoped to conclude it today but will have to wait until tomorrow. He has also indicated at least one departure.
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