Bristol City manager Lee Johnson admits he has “a lot of respect” for Sheffield United after tipping the Blades to challenge for promotion this season.
Johnson, whose City side host Chris Wilder’s Blades at Ashton Gate this season, made the admission in his pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s clash between the two sides.
“First and foremost, it’s a club I’ve got a lot of respect for,” said former Barnsley boss Johnson after being asked about the Blades.
“They’ve got a good manager and a good set of players, honest players. They’re hard working but talented as well.
“They haven’t bought ‘names’ or been dazzled by the lights… they sign players that fit their system, and they play their system very well.
“It’s still early days in the season, of course, but United are a side that I would expect to be up there at the end. Both clubs did well last season before petering out towards the end, but both have improved their depth and the Championship has got better as a division.
“So it’ll be interesting to see this game as a marker going forward.”
Asked to pick a player from Wilder’s squad that he’d like to see in a City shirt, Johnson smiled: “It’s a tough question, and it’s very hard to single a player out.
“They’ve got lots of good players and a good system, but I’m sure they’d say the same about us and our system.
“It’ll be a good game to watch, probably a tight one, and it’s up to us to be at our best to get a result.”
In his own pre-match press conference before the City game, Wilder revealed he is "delighted and proud” of the Blades’ international stars after confirming they all reported back to training with no ill-effects.
England U21 goalkeeper Dean Henderson, Republic of Ireland duo Enda Stevens and John Egan, Wales’ Ben Woodburn and Northern Ireland pair Oli Norwood and Conor Washington all represented their respective countries over the international break, while Rhys Norrington-Davies also earned his latest cap for Wales’ U21 side.
And, speaking ahead of Saturday’s trip to Bristol City, Wilder confirmed: “All the senior boys came back fit and healthy, and all will be involved at the weekend.
“Going away with their countries is a great experience for them, playing against different styles and types of players. It’s great for their education. They’re all young players and it’s valuable experience for them.
“I’m delighted and proud that they are involved at international level.”