Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has outlined the selection dilemma facing his team ahead of today’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Preston North End, writes James Shield.
The contest completes a gruelling week for the visitors who travelled to White Hart Lane for their first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday evening.
Clough, who bolstered the options at his disposal by signing Paul Coutts and Kieron Freeman from Derby County before boarding the coach to Lancashire, said: “The players are tired but we’ve also got fresh legs. Do you put you first choice tired side out or maybe one that’s a little bit below that but fresh? That’s the problem we’ve got to solve.”
United, who lost a key League One fixture at MK Dons seven days ago, must overturn a 1-0 deficit when they host Mauricio Pochettino’s side in the return leg next week.
Confirming Ben Davies and Florent Cuvelier could both feature after recovering from injury, Clough added: “The incentive is there, because we’ve got the second half of the season as much as Spurs.
“Anyone who gets selected should be wanting to get into the FA Cup fifth round as much as Spurs and beyond.
“There is no shortage of motivation. You will always disappointed when you’re left out of a game like Spurs.
“But you can take it one of two ways; preferably you’ll think ‘I’ll show I should have been involved and so, if there’s a chance for the second leg and beyond, I’ll show that now.’
“That’s the type of attitude we want the lads to have.”
Kieran Wallace and Che Adams are both ineligible for selection after featuring for Ilkeston during qualifying while Ryan Flynn will be rested to protect an Achilles complaint.
“I think it will be somewhat different to White Hart Lane at Preston,” Clough said. “But whatever team we put out, we hope they apply the same principles we did at Tottenham the other night.
“There is still an awful lot at stake. A place in the fifth round of the FA Cup which is what we want.”