Blades bonds forged at team get-togethers

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NICK Montgomery, the Sheffield United captain, has shed further light on the team meetings designed to galvanise the South Yorkshire club’s squad as they battle for Championship survival.

United approach this weekend’s Yorkshire derby against Leeds 23rd in the table and six points adrift of safety with only nine games of the season remaining.

Richard Cresswell and Stephen Quinn recently revealed Micky Adams’ squad have been holding impromptu get-togethers before key matches and Montgomery said: “It’s all about trying to bring us even closer together.

“We’ve got a lot of lads here who have only just come in and it’s important they feel a part of things. That’s what a lot of this is about, trying to make sure they’re really settled in.

“I’m not saying that people are pulling in different directions because that’s definitely not the case. But anything that might focus minds even more is surely worth doing.”

Montgomery is expected to face his home-town club on Saturday having accelerated his return from injury in a effort to help United beat the drop.

It is exactly those combative qualities which prompted Leeds manager Simon Grayson to launch a concerted effort to prise the 29-year-old away from Bramall Lane last summer.

After weeks of speculation, Montgomery put pen to paper on a new contract shortly before the start of the present campaign but Grayson, whose team are challenging for promotion, could resurrect his interest if United are demoted to League One.

Leeds’ Paul Connolly is battling to be passed fit in time to face his former club. Connolly, who joined United on loan last term, has been receiving treatment on a hamstring.

However, with the 27-year-old one booking away from an automatic suspension, Grayson has extended Eric Lichaj’s loan from Aston Villa until the end of the season. Barry Bannan, Lichaj’s team mate at Villa Park, has joined him at Elland Road.