We’ll have to battle, says Wilson

Npower League Division One 'Sheffield United vs PNE''Utd's Utd's Nick Montgomery get back into the swing of things
Npower League Division One 'Sheffield United vs PNE''Utd's Utd's Nick Montgomery get back into the swing of things

Danny Wilson is ready to take the rough with the smooth by drilling Sheffield United to show there is more than one side to their game in Sunday’s Hillsborough derby.

The Blades boss believes Wednesday are likely to curb the smooth passing style that has been his trademark approach since taking charge at Bramall Lane.

But Wilson insists they are equipped to pass a big test of their all-round qualities after seeing his side dig out results from tight games where necessary.

“If we’re allowed to play our game - which I very much doubt - then we’ll try to do that,” he said. “But along the way we’ve had to adapt in order to beat whatever is put in front of us.”

Gary Megson’s Wednesday are sure to be on the offensive this weekend but probably with an eye on the way they disrupted United’s fluency in the 2-2 draw at S2 back in October.

So, when asked if his side could adopt their normal approach at a highly-charged Hillsborough, Wilson admitted: “I’m not expecting to be able to do that. I know we’ll have to battle.”

But he is equally adamant that Megson’s men have been falsely branded by those who hail their strength but overlook their ability. “There are some good players at Wednesday,” he added.

“For instance, I know that Michail Antonio, the one they’ve just signed, is a very good player. People underestimate the type of player they’ve got.

“Hopefully we will rise to the game and impress our game on them. But I feel the sides are very evenly matched. I don’t think there’s a fag paper between us.”

Current form might tell a different story. United have won 11 of their last 13 league games to take a firm group on second place. As that sequence suggests, Wilson holds no truck with the theory that a point at Hillsborough - maintaining a five-point gap on the Owls with two games in hand - would be a good result.

“We have to go with the focus to win and, however tight it will be, I believe we can do that,” he declared. “It’s our approach in every game and we won’t change that. I still think we can catch Charlton at the top. I’ve always believed we can claw them back.” Those words deserve heeding - especially by those Blades fans who have performed a similar somersault by lauding Wilson’s work, having initially decried his appointment because of his links with the old enemy.

The one-time Wednesday player and manager is genuinely indifferent to his reception from Owls fans on his return to Hillsborough. “I can’t be bothered about that - I’ve got bigger fish to fry,” he said.

As for his mounting acceptance by United supporters, Wilson added: “Thankfully one or two have changed their opinions. Whether all have, I don’t know. But it’s not about me.

“Whatever happens, people will have an opinion and I’m not going to change that. It’s about the players and their performances. They are getting great belief from what we’re doing.

“The lads are enjoying their football and moving forward in great leaps. We’ve not had any major upheavals and I’ve been delighted to keep the squad together.”

It means the team virtually picks itself and the only talking point is whether playmaker Kevin McDonald can recover in time from a hamstring pull. Wilson admits that is unlikely - and there is considerable doubt as to whether he would play the Scot in this game even if he is fit.

Nick Montgomery was back in the fray as substitute for most of last week’s win over Preston and it was his gritty, compact midfield alliance with Michael Doyle that helped launch United’s most convincing form of the season.