Wilson wary of the joker

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Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson is determined not to let one of his former Hartlepool players serve the joker on him this weekend, writes Alan Biggs.

Wilson remembers Darrell Clarke - the young boss of non-league Salisbury City - as a bit of a jack-the-lad during their time together at Victoria Park.

And his is wary of Clarke’s ability to motivate a gung-ho performance from the Conference South side in Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie at Bramall Lane which marks the first time Salisbury have reached this stage of the competition.

“Darrell’s a cracking lad and I’ve got a lot of time for him,” said the Blades boss of the former Hartlepool wide boy (in every sense as he was a midfield raider down the flanks).

“He’s a real football character - a funny boy who was great for me in the dressing room. I’m sure he’s the same now as a manager.

“It’s a great game for Salisbury. They have absolutely nothing to lose and Darrell will have them battling their nuts off. We’ve just got to make sure we don’t end up as the laughing stock

“I feel we’re strong enough to get through but our application has to be right. And I’m not going to jeopardise our chances by blooding younger players.

“There has to be a proper balance and there won’t be wholesale changes.”

Clarke, 34 and still a player having been on the bench for Salisbury’s 3-2 replay win at Grimsby in the last round, said: “I’m thrilled and delighted to be coming up against Danny.

“He’s a top manager and a top bloke. And he’s a real gentleman, even if he did loan me out while I was at Hartlepool!

“It’s a fantastic achievement for a club our size to get to the third round and we’ll make sure we enjoy the day at a big ground like Bramall Lane.”