Sheffield United boss's warning to his side as he identifies Huddersfield Town's real strength

Paul Heckingbottom has warned his Sheffield United players they may have to be patient against Huddersfield Town this weekend, despite the Terriers travelling to automatic promotion-chasing United bottom of the Championship table.
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The game is the sides’ first since the Championship restarted after the World Cup break, with United essentially having to start again following their good run of form before the season paused last month.

Mark Fotheringham’s Town embarked on a warm-weather training camp abroad to prepare for the second half of a season which has seen them drastically underperform so far, especially after reaching last season’s play-off final at Wembley. And Heckingbottom said: “It’s a tough game. In terms of how compact they play, a mid block just over the halfway line to try and deny us space. So we'll have to be patient.

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“Sometimes from that shape they jump and press and be real aggressive which we’re prepared for, and if we’re playing well they’ll look to break if we’ve got them pinned in.

“There's not been many goals in their games since Mark went in but they're a real, real threat on set plays. Nine of their 10 goals since he went in have been from set-plays and they were a threat from them last season, too.

“So we'll have to be very patient, understand what they do well in terms of trying to stop us. They’re going to try and deny us and stop us playing how we want to play, as most teams do. So those are the type of things we’ve been preparing for.”

Despite the two clubs’ geographical status, Heckingbottom is not reading too much into the clash being billed as a Yorkshire derby. “We try and build every game up,” he said. “We want every game to feel big, whether it’s a derby or not.

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“Derbies are not as blood and thunder as they were, with how the game is refereed nowadays. Tactics and set-up determine how frantic a game will be.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Nathan Stirk/Getty ImagesSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

“If they came and went full press and went against us and it was ding-dong, you might say it was a proper derby. But if they come with a mid block and try and slow us down, it’s not going to play the same, is it?

“They’re derbies in name rather than personalities now. It’s irrelevant to us in that respect, we try and build up every game so we can be as good and front-footed and aggressive as possible in every game.”