The match against Carlos Corberan’s side is the latest in a series of contests which pit United against a direct rival for promotion, with Nottingham Forest, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough - where their former manager Chris Wilder is now in charge - also looming on the horizon.
After beating West Bromwich Albion in midweek, Paul Heckingbottom’s men have prepared for the lunchtime fixture only a point outside of the play-off positions. That result, their seventh win in nine Championship outings under Heckingbottom, means they will move to within one of Corberan’s fifth-placed squad with three games in hand if they triumph at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Assistant manager Stuart McCall, who used his media conference on Friday to praise the backing United have received on the road, insisted those fans set to make the journey to West Yorkshire could help influence the outcome, saying: “The away support has been fantastic. Never, ever, underestimate how important that is - especially during the little lulls that you often get in matches.
“That is what can help drive you through then. I know from my own experience as a player and also as a manager and a coach. There are going to be times, because of the quality of the opposition and the run that we’re on, when we have to dig in and come through something. That’s when the support can make a real difference. People think ‘Well, you would say that’ and I get why. But trust me, it’s true.”
After facing Town, who triumphed 2-1 at Bramall Lane earlier this term, United host Hull City on Tuesday. Heckingbottom, McCall and Jack Lester, who was appointed as head of player development following the November reshuffle which saw United part company with Slavisa Jokanovic, have all spoken on a regular basis about strengthening the relationship between the team and the terraces - something which was a feature of the Wilder-era, when two promotions and a ninth placed Premier League finish were all achieved in the space of only four seasons.
“At home, the support is getting there,” McCall continued. “When we first came in, it was a little quiet, a little flat, as you would expect. But it’s getting there now. It’s finding its voice.”
United will be without strikers Rhian Brewster (hamstring) and David McGoldrick (thigh) for the foreseeable future, with Enda Stevens and Ben Osborn also still undergoing treatment for injuries.
Brewster underwent surgery earlier this week while McGoldrick, who limped-out of the clash with West Brom, will discover the extent of his problem after undergoing a scan.
With Billy Sharp an almost certain starter after scoring five goals in his last five appearances, Oli McBurnie and Daniel Jebbison are vying to partner the United captain in attack. Heckingbottom must also decide whether to recall the fit again Morgan Gibbs-White following his cameo appearance against West Brom.
“Ozzy is out on the grass,” McCall said. “He’s a little bit ahead of Enda, who had a bit of a set-back recently.”