Sheffield United Blades can cause Manchester United problems

Billy Sharp
Billy Sharp
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Nigel Adkins is confident his team possess the attacking threat to cause Manchester United problems during Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Old Trafford.

And, with nearly 9,000 Sheffield United supporters set to attend the third round fixture, the visitors’ manager believes exploiting that synergy could enhance their prospects of beating Louis van Gaal’s side.

Describing how Billy Sharp’s combative performance against Bradford City last month helped raise the atmosphere inside Bramall Lane, Adkins said: “Billy has scored four goals in four games now. We know he’s always going to get goals, that’s why we brought him here again.

“But, in the Bradford game especially, he was getting hold of the ball and was tenacious with his running. There was a real togetherness with the crowd. We were all united together and that’s what we want.”

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Sharp, who rejoined United from Leeds during the close season, is expected to spearhead Adkins’ frontline when they attempt to stun the 11 time winners by reaching the fourth round stage. Matt Done could also feature after making rapid progress in his battle to overcome a hamstring injury but Adkins must decide whether to start George Long in goal or recall Mark Howard. Long has started United’s last 11 games after regaining his place but was selected for cup fixtures before dislodging Howard earlier this term.

Andreas Pereira, meanwhile, is hoping his two goals during an under-21 fixture against Tottenham Hotspur earlier this week will convince van Gaal to play him against United.

The midfielder, who was born in Belgium but represents Brazil at international level, has made only two starts since August with both of those coming in the Capital One Cup.

“I think I need some match rhythm so it’s good to play with the under-21’s,” Pereira told MUTV. “The level of the first team is a bit higher, of course, but both are high intensity so it’s good to play here. Hopefully, I can show the manager with my sharpness and the goals that I can maybe play on Saturday. Last year was a very big year for me but I am hoping this one can be a good year as well.”