Alan Knill insists that Sheffield United will give their full respect to the Checkatrade Trophy when it gets underway tonight, despite admitting that next Sunday’s league trip to Gillingham is more important.
United host Leicester City’s U23s in the first game of the revamped competition, which now features 64 teams, group stages and the youth sides of invited clubs with a Category One academy.
But invited U23 sides can also field three ‘overage’ players and a goalkeeper in their sides - leaving United facing something of an unknown quantity at Bramall Lane.
“The rules are so vague... it says U23s, but we could end up facing Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez,” said Knill, United’s assistant manager.
“But it doesn’t matter to us. We won on Saturday and we want to win on Tuesday and, if we do, then it sets us up nicely for Sunday at Gillingham.”
Blades boss Chris Wilder, who tasted his first win in charge of his boyhood club on Saturday against former employers Oxford, could hand Harry Chapman his first start for the South Yorkshire club since joining on loan from Middlesbrough - but will resist the urge to make wholesale changes while his squad is still gelling together.
“We’ll do a bit of both,” Knill added.
“Give some players a rest, but give others a bit more chance to develop partnerships. Without disrespecting the competition at all, the most important game for us is next Sunday at Gillingham.”
George Long and James Wallace both played for United’s U23s yesterday as they lost 3-1 to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Long, who signed a new deal at United in the summer, has been told he is free to explore other opportunities away from Bramall Lane after losing the No.1 spot to new signing Simon Moore.
Kieran Wallace had also been expected to feature at the City Ground, but didn’t make the squad. Next Tuesday, United’s youngsters face Sheffield Wednesday at Bramall Lane.