Birmingham City v Sheffield United: Blues boss reveals his admiration for Blades star
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Despite turning 36 tomorrow, Sharp travels to the Midlands searching for his 10th goal of the season following last weekend’s strike against Peterborough. That saw him become the most prolific player in the second tier of English football since it was rebranded as the Championship.
“Billy Sharp scores goals for fun,” Bowyer said.“It is going to be a big test for our defenders, that’s something we are going to have to make sure doesn’t happen and he has got to be marked when he is in the box because he is definitely a threat.
“But saying that we can’t concentrate on one player they have got another ten as well.”
United were beaten 1-0 by City on the opening weekend of the new campaign. But following a difficult start to the season, they are now only six points outside of the play-off positions with three matches in hand on sixth-placed West Bromwich Albion, who visit Bramall Lane next week.
“They will bring a really tough challenge, they are a good side who obviously were competing in the Premier League last season,” Bowyer continued. “We played them earlier on and it was really tough.”
United’s hopes of recording their third win in a row were dealt a blow when it emerged the hamstring injury their record signing Rhian Brewster suffered at the Weston Homes Stadium was more serious than first feared. Speaking on Wednesday, Heckingbottom conceded the youngster, a £23.5m signing from Liverpool, is now set for another “significant” absence after only just recovering from a similar problem.
Daniel Jebbison could feature against City after being recalled from his loan at Burton Albion while United must also decide whether or not to start defender Charlie Goode. The 26-year-old is scheduled to spend the rest of the campaign in South Yorkshire following his temporary transfer from Brentford.
“The strength in depth of their squad is exceptional,” Bowyer said. “I went and watched them the other night and they brought on John Fleck - a top quality player - David McGoldrick - a top quality player - and then Oli McBurnie, who they paid £20m or so for. Brewster went off, he cost £20m or so as well.
“They have got a really good squad of players and so we are going to have to be right at it from the start, defending well and trying to hurt them when we get the opportunity.”
City recruited former United striker Lyle Taylor on loan from Nottingham Forest before the window closed. Another ex-United player, Scott Hogan, is likely to partner Taylor in attack with Onel Hernandez lining up behind them.
Bowyer, however, has admitted to “feeling short” of defensive cover after struggling to bring in reinforcements before Monday’s deadline. Youngster Marcel Oakley has returned to training but could miss-out against United.
“Craig (Gardner, City’s technical director) was trying,” Bowyer said. “He kept throwing names at me but there were none that really suited - none that were good enough with the money we had to spend.
“We don’t have the money that others are throwing around. We have to try and be a little bit clever.”