Madine the main man

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Gary Megson believes it is Gary Madine and not Leon Clarke who should capture the Hillsborough spotlight this weekend.

Clarke makes a first return to face former club Sheffield Wednesday after hitting five goals for John Sheridan’s Chesterfield on the rebound from his Swindon bust-up with Paolo Di Canio.

By the nature of football’s twists, the maverick marksman seems almost scripted to score. “He’s a handful,” Megson admits.

But beyond that acknowledgment of an enigmatic player who can be a handful in other ways too, the Owls boss is dismissive of any expectation of Clarke taking centre stage.

“I hope Chesterfield are more bothered about the Gary Madine factor,” he said in tribute to the nine-goal Owls striker who tops the League One scoring chart. “If our people play as well as they have been doing then we’ll be okay.”

But Megson has warned his players not to “get sucked in” by derby fever - unless it’s purely concerned with neighbouring Chesterfield’s visit. He has spent the week batting back requests and questions relating to that other derby in Sheffield the following weekend.

“It’s worrying,” said Megson, bringing his experience to bear in a bid to isolate his dressing room from all the bubbling build up to Bramall Lane a week on Sunday.

And it’s why my question over whether he was irked about Sheffield United’s clear run after the postponement of their game at Preston got short shrift.

“Makes no difference to me,” shrugged Megson, previously vocal about a system that forces him to do without two players through international calls on Saturday (Reda Johnson and Liam Palmer) while Preston can lay up after a third of theirs was summoned.

For the full story, see this week’s Telegraph.