Sheffield United: Blades sweat on defender

Goalkeeper Iain Turner gives Bob Harris a piggyback so he can join in the celebrations after Sheffield United's win over West Ham � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Goalkeeper Iain Turner gives Bob Harris a piggyback so he can join in the celebrations after Sheffield United's win over West Ham � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
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Bob Harris is scheduled to undergo a fitness test before tomorrow’s match against Preston North End.

The full-back, who injured his ankle during Tuesday’s victory over West Ham, travelled to Lancashire with the rest of Nigel Clough’s squad earlier this evening but will be examined by medical staff at their overnight base.

Clough, the Sheffield United manager, said: “Bob is feeling quite sore still so we’ll see how he is in the morning. There are one or two other people with little niggles but they should all be okay.”

The visit to Deepdale sees United return to action for the first time since triumphing 5-4 on penalties at the Boleyn Ground after their Capital One Cup second round tie with Sam Allardyce’s side finished 1-1 after normal and extra-time.

“We’ll take a good look at everyone and have a chat with the physios,” Clough said. “Because there’s always a risk of muscle injuries if people are fatigued and we don’t want to pick up any of those because they can take quite a while to heal.

“But the lads will have got a real lift from beating West Ham. We were talking on the bench when it went to penalties and agreed that no matter how they turned out, we’d tell them we were really pleased with how they’d fought.

“At the same time, though, we also realised it might really deflate them if, after putting so much in, they didn’t go through. Fortunately that didn’t happen and we won.”

Preston, last season’s League One play-off semi-finalists, will be without former United midfielder Kyel Reid (ankle) and Lee Holmes (chest) but defender Bailey Wright could feature despite missing their cup defeat by Middlesbrough due to a groin problem.

Will Hayhurst, the Preston winger, said: “Last week against Oldham we didn’t play as well but managed to take the three points. Hopefully we can play well and get the win when Sheffield United come here.

“It is a big game because you would expect them to be up there this season. They are a big club, a good side and will be coming here looking for a result.

“We will be ready for that and hopefully we can show the rest of League One what we are capable of doing. In the league we are unbeaten and it would be nice to stay that way after tomorrow.

“After this we have two weeks without a league game and 10 days after the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie without a game at all. So it would be really good if we could take a victory into the international break.”

Clough, who led United from 21st to seventh in the table last term after being appointed in October, revealed his respect for Preston counterpart Simon Grayson during today’s pre-match media briefing at Bramall Lane.

Grayson, the former Leeds, Blackpool and Huddersfield Town manager, reciprocated before applying the finishing touches to the hosts’ preparations.

“Nigel has done a fantastic job since going there, turning the club around after the poor start they made last season,” Grayson said. “United have a strong squad with a mix of experienced and younger players. This has all the hallmarks of being a decent game and we want to win it.

“We put pressure on ourselves to do well. We don’t want to settle for the play-offs, we want promotion as do Sheffield United, Bristol City and half-a-dozen other clubs. We have to be consistent with our performances and be able to replicate good play from now until May.”

Meanwhile, centre-forward Jordan Slew has joined Port Vale on loan until January from Blackburn Rovers. Slew, who progressed through the ranks at United before moving to Ewood Park in 2011, could make his debut for Micky Adams’ team against Chesterfield tomorrow.

Adams, a former United manager, said: “I worked with Jordan at Sheffield United and I’m excited to be working with him again. I know that a confident Jordan Slew will be a great asset.

“He’s big and powerful with an eye for a goal. We hope that a loan move until January can benefit us both.”

United visit Vale Park on Boxing Day.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1