Sheffield United: Friendship will mean nothing to Billy Sharp when Blades take on Leeds United
Billy Sharp, the Sheffield United captain, is ready to "fight" his close pal Liam Cooper during today's Championship showdown with Leeds.
Chris Wilder's side travel to Elland Road third in the table, two points behind Marcelo Bielsa's second-placed side.
With only nine matches of the season remaining, the match is being billed in some quarters as a shoot-out for automatic promotion.
Although he disputed those suggestions - "There's still a lot of football to be played" - Sharp admitted the magnitude of the occasion means he and Cooper have been forced to put their friendship on hold.
"I'll be giving him stick during the game," Sharp said. "I'll be looking for whatever advantage I can get. He's going to be the same, I know that. We'll be doing whatever it takes to try and come out on top."
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"I've spoken to Liam this week," Sharp added. "I congratulated him on captaining them more than 100 times, which is something he's just passed. It's a fantastic achievement and we'll speak afterwards, whatever the result. But until then, all we want to do is give our best for our two fantastic clubs who are doing really well."
Sharp, aged 33, spent a season at Leeds before rejoining United for a second time in 2015. He returns to West Yorkshire having scored six goals in his last five appearances against his former club.
Sharp, whose father Steve texts him inspirational messages before games, was named on the bench when Wilder's side beat Brentford in midweek but has been told he will start against Bielsa's men.
"He's told me one thing already, he told me to remember what happened last time I was out of the team and then came back to play Leeds," Sharp, who scored twice against them at Bramall Lane last term, said. "Hopefully that happens again but most importantly, we are there as a group to get their best results for our club."