SHEFFIELD UNITED: Blades expect tough test from Maltese runners-up

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SHEFFIELD United are preparing for the toughest match of their Maltese tour against Hibernians tonight.

Forty-eight hours after cruising to a 6-0 victory over Zejtun Corinthians, Danny Wilson’s side face one of the country’s most iconic names in what is fast becoming a regular fixture on both clubs’ summer calendar.

Although United, who have previously locked horns with Hibernians over 45 and 90 minutes, will have learned little from Monday’s outing at Ta’Qali’s international training complex, the fixture did impress watching observers from the Malta FA.

This evening, however, will focus purely on sport with Hibernians always providing robust opposition.

Wilson, outlining his priorities for pre-season, said: “Fitness is important but whenever you go out onto the pitch you always need to have some sort of edge.

“You always want to be competitive and that also builds up as the (friendly) programme moves along.

“That way you can ease the players back, get them into the swing of things again, and make sure they are hitting the peak of their powers by the time the first match comes along.”

Hibernians, who included former United player Jason Vandelannoite on their roster last term, will pose a much sterner test than energetic but ultimately limited Corinthians.

The only team on the island never to have played outside of Malta’s top-flight, the Paola based club finished second in the BOV Premier League last season behind champions Valletta.

Founded in 1922, initially to represent the pro-British Constitutional Party, Hibernians boast six Maltese internationals in their squad while youngster Bjorn Kristensen attracted interest from Everton earlier in his career.

They could also call upon the services of Brazilians Rodolfo Soares, previously of Fluminese, and Marcelo Dias.

Wilson said: “Some of the lads who were involved a lot last season have been given a bit more rest.

“But, at the same time, that’s provided opportunities for other people to enjoy a good run out and stake claims.”