Sheffield United: Blistering reaction to new badge won’t cause a distraction...but an injury might
Earlier this week, to the dismay of many on social media, Bristol City unveiled a new club crest.
The design, described by one irate commentator as a bird riding a "f****** unicycle", confirms owner Steve Lansdown views them as "a modern, Premier League club with a strong identity" according to another.
However, the Guernsey-based billionaire recognises it will take more than a shiny new corporate logo for the highest-profile name on his portfolio of interests to reach the Premier League. In order to beat Sheffield United during Saturday's Championship encounter at Bramall Lane, and breathe new life into a top-six challenge which has begun to falter in recent weeks, City must become the first visiting team to score a league goal against Chris Wilder's side since Boxing Day.
Lee Johnson, the manager tasked with breaking a record stretching back eight games and over 13 weeks, has seen his plans complicated by Callum O'Dowda who withdrew from the Republic of Ireland's European Championship qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia with a knee injury. The 23-year-old's pace and crossing ability makes him an important cog in the City machine and it was his centre, after United had missed a series of opportunities, which enabled Marley Watkins to score the match-winner when the two teams met at Ashton Gate six months ago.
Johnson, speaking during his pre-match press conference on Wednesday, rated O'Dowda as "fifty fifty" to be declared fit.
"Callum hasn't trained with us but he has been out on the grass going through various movements," he said. "Friday we’ll probably push him and see whether we can get him involved."
City, who are expected to call upon either Andi Weimann, Antoine Semenyo or Matty Taylor if O'Dowda fails to recover in time, pieced together an unbeaten 15 game run midway through the campaign but make the journey north without a win in six outings. That sequence of results has seen them slip to ninth in the table, two points outside of the top six and a further 17 behind second-placed United.
After being held to a draw by strugglers Ipswich Town, Johnson believes the trip to South Yorkshire could prove a blessing in disguise despite United's form of late.
"There's a nervousness at home that we don't seem to play with away but I suppose that comes down to enjoying it," he said.