Sheffield United: Harry braced for a battering

Aerial battle: Harry Maguire knows what to expect at Shrewsbury.
Aerial battle: Harry Maguire knows what to expect at Shrewsbury.

SHEFFIELD United must survive an aerial bombardment to secure three precious League One points at Shrewsbury Town this afternoon, Harry Maguire has warned.

But the England under-21 international, whose contribution to the visitors’ cause was yesterday labelled “miraculous” by manager Danny Wilson, insists the return of Neill Collins and Matt Hill from injury means they are well-equipped to withstand a physical battering.

Identifying striker Marvin Morgan as Town’s most potent threat, Maguire said: “Shrewsbury are going to be tough.

“They’ll play direct and they’ll be looking to get right in our faces.

“They’ll put the ball up there to Morgan and we’ll have to be ready to cope with that.”

United, sixth in the table after failing to win in the competition since Boxing Day, hope to include Hill in their squad after Wilson revealed the defender has made significant progress in his battle to recover from a broken jaw.

Collins’ appearance alongside Maguire at centre-half during last week’s game against Coventry City provided United’s rearguard with a much more combative edge but the Scot, wearing a face mask to protect his fractured cheekbone, was unable to prevent them from suffering a 2-1 defeat.

“We’ve been disappointed with our results lately but second-half (against City) there we positives we could take,” Maguire added.

“We’re all working hard. The gaffer, the staff and the players. Everyone.

“I thought we looked a lot more solid with Neill back and with Matty hopefully coming into contention, that’s a real plus for us.

“Not so long ago we had the best defensive record in this league but we lost some key players and we didn’t adapt as well as we should.

“Developing partnerships takes time as you could see because Danny (Higginbotham) and myself were getting better as the games went by.”

Town, 18th after taking six points from their previous five outings, will include former United midfielder David McAllister in their starting eleven while new signings Barry Robson and Jonathan Forte are expected to feature for Wilson’s side.

Graham Turner, Wilson’s counterpart at Greenhous Meadow, could also select Paul Parry after the Welshman returned to action at Preston North End last week.

“It’s been difficult for Paul, as he’s had his illness,” Turner said. ”But he played up front for the reserves against Bury last week and you realise he has that bit of composure.

“He’s not going to be flying all over the pitch and running in behind defenders to often.

“But, if we can get Paul on the ball, he’s got the ability to see things and that is what he showed at Preston.”

Maguire, though, insisted United should not be distracted by Town’s tactics or personnel as they enter a crucial period of the campaign. Wilson’s players face Bury, now managed by Kevin Blackwell, at Gigg Lane on Tuesday.

“With the ability we’ve got, I think we should just concentrate and focus on ourselves,” Maguire said. “But we know this game will be tough.”

*Did you know? Shrewsbury Town were unbeaten at Greenhous Meadow between March 2011 and September 2012. A Leon Clarke header saw Scunthorpe end that 34 match sequence.

*Twitter: JamesShield1