Sheffield United: Dale look to depose Keith’s “kings” of League One

Rochdale manager Keith Hill is looking forward to this afternoon's match at Bramall Lane
Rochdale manager Keith Hill is looking forward to this afternoon's match at Bramall Lane
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Keith Hill, the Rochdale manager, insists his team will show no fear at Bramall Lane despite labelling Sheffield United as the “kings” of this season’s League One competition, writes James Shield.

Instead, confirming Nigel Clough’s suspicions about the approach they will adopt during today’s League One encounter, Hill claimed the visitors will be inspired by the prospect of performing in front of a near 20,000 audience.

“I’m not bothered about the crowd or the size of the stadium,” said Hill. “You’ve got to fight for anything that you earn.

“I don’t mind being Rochdale ‘the underdogs’ because we invest in people with time, not money and that’s what important and special about what we’re doing at the moment.

“My expectation for us is to go there with a plan and play against one of the kings of League One. And there’s no reason to think we can’t do that.”

United, whose average home gate is nearly five times the size of attendances at Spotland this term, have been warned that Rochdale will arrive “full of confidence” after scoring seven goals without reply in their last two games.

“They will relish the prospect of playing at our place,” Clough said. “Keith Hill’s teams, if they are on song, are very, very good.

“They have had a very good start to life in League One after being promoted last season. We had them watched last weekend and they won in a really comprehensive manner.

“But, as always, we prefer to focus on ourselves on the opposition. We always try and dictate things rather react to what other people are doing. That’s an important attitude to have because we’ve got confidence in the ability of our players.”

United are also in a rich vein of form after stretching their unbeaten run to four matches following last month’s draw at Preston North End. Defenders Craig Alcock and Bob Harris are both expected to feature after recovering from injury but Stefan Scougall, the Scotland under-21 international, is still nursing a knee complaint.

Rochdale, who destroyed Crawley Town 4-0 seven days ago, have tasted defeat just once since losing at Chesterfield last month and Hill said: “I’m just bothered about the pitch. If the pitch at Bramall Lane is as good as it was at Crawley then I’ll have no excuses in the way that we can play.

“I don’t really look at the league. I know if we’re picking up points we’ll be okay.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1