Sheffield United: Battle for derby places

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Sheffield United manager David Weir has indicated that starting roles in Saturday’s South Yorkshire derby with Rotherham will be be up for grabs when his team visit Scunthorpe tonight.

United begin their latest Johnstone’s Paint Trophy campaign against Brian Laws’ side knowing a win would not only book their place in the second-round draw but also prove the perfect tonic following last weekend’s League One defeat by MK Dons.

Weir, who blamed that result on poor finishing, is set to make several changes at Glanford Park despite competition rules which prohibit him from resting large swathes of his squad ahead of the eagerly-anticipated encounter at New York Stadium.

With George Long on international duty with England Under-21s, goalkeeper Mark Howard is poised to earn a recall while Florent Cuvelier and Harry Bunn could make their debuts after joining United yesterday.

“Possession of the jersey is important,” Weir said. “If someone does well then they’ll be rewarded.

“It’s important a player knows that if they perform then they are going to get a chance.”

Weir hopes his words will provide United with an extra edge as they enter a tournament which, in normal circumstances, would not feature high on their list of priorities.

However, he confirmed: “We want to win the game. Make no mistake about that.

“If you go in for something, then you should go in with the attitude that you want to do well. And we want to create a winning mentality here at this football club.”

United are expected to enter the emergency loan market after being thwarted in their attempts to sign Coventry City striker Leon Clarke yesterday.

As The Star revealed earlier this week, Weiir had targeted Cuvelier, Clarke and his teammate, Callum Wilson, during the closing stages of the transfer window.

Although Cuvelier completed his permanent move from Stoke, finalising a deal for Clarke proved logistically impossible to complete while Wilson is understood to have been the subject of an “unrealistic fee” according to one source.

United could ressurect their interest in Clarke next year but are also understood to have identified several potential targets in the emergencyloan market which opens shortly.

A frontman is believed to top Weir’s wish-list.