Sheffield United: Clough bids to down rookie Derry

United boss Nigel Clough
United boss Nigel Clough

Blades boss Nigel Clough believes Notts County have got a “very good chance” of avoiding relegation - but he expects his team to do them no favours this afternoon.

United travel to Meadow Lane looking to maintain their improved form under Clough as they seek to put further distance between themselves and the League One relegation places.

The Bramall Lane outfit, lying in 18th position in the third tier of English football, take on a County side who remain second from bottom in the standings, three points shy of safety, despite their 3-0 over Bradford City on New Year’s Day.

Clough is a big admirer of rookie County boss Shaun Derry and is not surprised he has masterminded an upturn in their fortunes. Derry, a former United player, was put in charge of County in early November.

“Shaun is a cracking lad and a lot of people know him from his time here,” said Clough, who was pipped to the League One manager of the month award for December by Brentford’s Mark Warburton.

“He is one of those very decent people in football and it is a first opportunity in management for him. I’m sure he will be desperate to keep them up.”

“I think Shaun has matured a lot in the last few years,” he added. “He has got an experienced man in Greg Abbott alongside him. I think they have got a very good chance of staying up. I just hope it is not at the expense of us.”

Beating Aston Villa in the FA Cup last weekend has further lifted morale at United but Clough has warned his players to not take County lightly.

“They [County] wll be using our result last week to their advantage,” he said. “They’ll be saying ‘this isn’t Villa Park, they won’t fancy it’ and stuff like that so we need to be switched on.”