Sheffield United vs. Coventry City
Updated Friday, 1st February 2013
Sheffield United return to League One action tonight for the first of two successive home fixtures, firstly against Coventry City followed by Crawley Town on Tuesday night.
Blades boss Danny Wilson without striker Shaun Miller (cruciate knee ligament), meanwhile keeper Mark Howard (thigh) and defender Lescinel Jean-Francois (knee) have returned to training but are unlikely to see first team action soon. Whilst fellow defender Matt Hill (broken jaw) is also ruled out and expected to return to training at the beginning of March and Marcus Williams (illness) missed the trip to Meadow Lane last weekend, Darryl Westlake is likely to continue in that role.
They are boosted by the return of defender Neill Collins (broken cheekbone) who recovered from injury and played a part in the cup defeat to the Royals, whilst keeper Howard played in the U-21's fixture against Crewe Alexandra last Monday and may be including amongst the first team tonight.
Following the sale of Nick Blackman (to Reading) the Blades have been busy in the transfer market and have reccruited forward Jonathan Forte on loan from Premiership Southampton and midfielder Barry Robson from MLS side Vancouver Whitecaps - the pair could make their debuts tonight.
Coventry City are seventh in the League One table having gone three matches without defeat. They recorded double victories over Tranmere Rovers (1-0) and Oldham Athletic (2-1) at the Ricoh Arena before there 2-2 draw at Preston North End last Saturday. Having previously been eliminated from this seasons FA Cup competition to the hands of Tottenham Hotspur in Round 3 the Sky Blues were left to concentrate on league matters and under new boss Mark Robins have surged up the league table.
He was appointed manager of Coventry on 19 September 2012 when after only eight matches were 23rd in the table and without a win and having won his second league match in charge went on an inspiring run where in twenty-two matches in charge has won twelve and drawn just five and are still competing in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and are only a few steps away from Wembley.
They drew with Preston at Deepdale in there last outing but had to come from behind when Graham Cummings (30) opened the scoring for the hosts but City were level eight minutes later through Leon Clarke and when former Blade Chris Robertson (53) bungled into his own net an away win looked on the cards. However North End were to have the last say when Nicky Wroe (60) found the net on the hour mark to draw the match level and tie the match at 2-2.
The Sky Blues have no injury concerns but are without Cody McDonald who despite costing the club £400,000 has joined Gillingham on loan whilst striker Jason Scotland, formerly with Swansea City, Wigan Athletic and Ipswich Town is wanted by City and could soon sign for him, however he is also wanted by Barnsley.
Mark Robins however could see the returns of Gary McSheffrey (hamstring) and Stephen Elliott (dead leg) from injury. The dup missed the draw at Deepdale last weekend but the Blues boss is confident they will play at Bramall Lane on Friday night; "Steve got a dead-leg in training on Thursday; we were hopeful he would come through but he wasn’t quite right. “Gary’s picked up a little hamstring strain and because he’s had a long- standing problem with his ankle we took the opportunity to give him an injection that should see him through for the rest of the season. I’m sure they will both be OK for Friday which should be a great game.”
Blades-Mad Prediction: Sheffield United 1-0 Coventry City