Sheffield United: Blades hope to celebrate with a Brandy

Febian Brandy prepares to return from suspension  � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Febian Brandy prepares to return from suspension � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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His return from suspension might not have attracted the same headlines as Marlon King’s move to Bramall Lane or the arrival of Ryan Hall from Leeds but Sheffield United manager David Weir has predicted Febian Brandy could prove an instrumental figure against Preston North End this afternoon.

Brandy is expected to start today’s League One fixture with Simon Grayson’s side after serving a three match ban following his sending-off during the recent visit of MK Dons.

Although preparations for the match have been overshadowed by the debate surrounding United’s decision to sign King after his release by Birmingham City, Weir insisted last night that the former Walsall winger will also be able to reignite a team without a win since the opening round of the season.

“We have really missed Febian,” Weir acknowledged. “Because he brings something different to the team. Pace and power.

“Opponents play are five or 10 yards deeper because they know what he is capable of. You can see it during matches and on the video so it’s great to have him back.

“One player shouldn’t make too much difference but Febian Brandy is different to most players. His attributes are different to what we have got.

“We have definitely missed him. It’s not an excuse for losing the games we have lost but it’s definitely been a contributing factor.”

Brandy is expected to be deployed alongside King, Florent Cuvelier and Jose Baxter in a new-look attack as United attempt to become the first team to beat North End in the competition this term.

Although King’s presence has divided the South Yorkshire club’s support - his chequered past includes two prison sentences - its hierarchy judged that was a price worth paying after watching Weir’s charges score just once in five outings. The 33-year-old, by contrast, has netted 45 times in 108.

Hall should also feature after completing his emergency loan transfer. Brian McDermott, the Leeds manager, yesterday confirmed the 25-year-old declined an invitation to join Rotherham before striking a month long agreement with United.

“It’s important to get a win - it’s important to get a win at any time - but having come off successive defeats, it’s important to get a bit of momentum and get back on track,” Weir said. “To start winning football games and put this difficult period behind us hopefully once and for all.”

United slipped to 22nd in the table following last weekend’s narrow defeat at Carlisle. North End, meanwhile, are fifth and cross the Pennines having taken maximum points from each of their previous three games.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1