It’s a home tie with Bristol City for Paul Heckingbottom as he gets his reign as permanent manager of Sheffield United underway this afternoon.
Heckingbottom has taken over from Slavisa Jokanovic. The Serbian was surprisingly relieved of his duties in midweek after less than six months in charge.
Bramall Lane could well have a different atmosphere about it. The football under Jokanovic had been questioned by some Blades fans. Indeed, the slow build up and possession based style had left The Lane feeling flat at times.
Heckingbottom, along with Stuart McCall and Jack Lester, will be hoping to get the United fans involved early. A quick start is needed, and the Blades boss will need get his XI bang on to ensure that.
John Fleck will miss out after his horror collapse at Reading. It remains to be seen when the Scot will be back. However, Sander Berge has been seen back enjoying training, and the Norwegian could get the nod today ahead of Conor Hourihane.
Heckingbottom will likely stick with the back three. Further forward, Morgan Gibbs-White in the number ten role makes sense behind two strikers as well.
Among those strikers, Oli McBurnie is back in contention, while Iliman Ndiaye is also back with the first-team after playing for the under-23s.
Ndiaye is well known to Heckingbottom, and could well get the start today.
Wes Foderingham will also continue in goal. The stopper has done well, with some even suggesting United move Robin Olsen back to Roma in January.
Predicted Sheffield United XI v Bristol City
Bramall Lane should be in a better mood and if United’s players respond well to the demands of Heckingbottom, we could blow Bristol away early.
As usual, it will be about a good start. An early goal could well settle the tie and United do have the much better squad on paper.
We think Hecky will get a tune out of this Blades squad today and a comfortable win could well come. A huge confidence booster for the club, if indeed it goes to plan.
Predicted Score – Sheffield United 3 v 1 Bristol City