Howard wants to be Lane No 1

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MARK Howard has set his sights on dislodging Steve Simonsen from Sheffield United’s starting 11.

Speaking ahead of Sunday’s trip to Sheffield Wednesday, the former Arsenal, Aberdeen and Blackpool goalkeeper admitted the prospect of playing in high-profile games such as the Steel City derby was one of the factors which lured him to Bramall Lane.

Howard, who made his first appearance in a United jersey during yesterday’s 6-1 Central League success over Stoke, told The Star: “I’ve come here to try and play football. There’s no point in denying that.

“Simmo is a brilliant keeper and he’s shown why he’s so highly regarded since I’ve been here. But I’ll be working hard to try to get my chance in the team.”

Howard, who has signed a two-and-a-half-year contract at Bramall Lane, added: “There’s always a lot of competition amongst us goalies and we don’t have any problems with that.

“Everyone knows what the score is because when you’re in our position there’s only one role in the team. Other players can swap about and change their roles a bit but we can’t. But it doesn’t mean to say that you can’t get along. In fact, you have to because we work pretty much on top of each other week in and week out.

“We’re competing against each other for that starting role but we also really help each other out when we can.”

United, who last night insisted injured midfielder Kevin McDonald will be given until “the final moment” to recover for the meeting with Gary Megson’s side, have placed Lee Williamson and Nick Montgomery on standby should the former Scotland under-21 international’s hamstring fail to heal in time.

“Kevin is undergoing treatment,” a spokesperson said.