HARRY Maguire last night added his voice to the growing chorus of approval surrounding Dave Kitson’s presence at Bramall Lane.
Maguire, Sheffield United’s teenage centre-half, spoke out after watching the former Stoke City, Reading and Portsmouth centre-forward claim his first strike since agreeing at short-term contract with Danny Wilson’s side during Saturday’s draw with Notts County.
Although Maguire’s priority is preventing rather than scoring goals, he told The Star: “Dave is a real handful. He’s got a massive frame and he makes life really difficult for defenders.
“On top of that, his finishing is clearly excellent too.
“He can come back and defend corners and free-kicks as well.
“And with him around it also means we’ve got an out ball.
“Kits can hold it up and make a bad ball a good ball.
“He’ll get fouled, he’ll give fouls away but he’ll always give the defenders a fight.”
Kitson’s second-half header appeared to have set United on course for a deserved victory over the visitors from Meadow Lane until Lee Hughes’ predatory instincts forced them to settle for a share of the spoils.
Despite acknowledging the final outcome was a “disappointment,” Maguire insisted a repeat of that effervescent display should bring greater rewards at Hartlepool tonight.
“We’re always really positive. We scored more goals than pretty much anyone in Europe last season and we always like to approach games in that fashion.
“The gaffer is a great attacking coach but as both he and (assistant) Frank (Barlow) always remind us, you’ve also got to be solid defensively.
“You’ve got to get that balance right.”
United, who head to Victoria Park eighth in the League One table, average 1.4 per goals game in all competitions this season compared to 1.0 conceded.
Hartlepool enter the contest in disarray after suffering their fourth defeat of the new campaign at Colchester three days ago. Their rearguard has been breached 15 times in eight outings, prompting Wilson’s opposite number Neale Cooper to admit “I wouldn’t like to play behind that back four” before returning north.
Wilson, one of the former Aberdeen midfielder’s predecessors at Victoria Park, confirmed yesterday that United will look to exploit Hartlepool’s brittle confidence during the opening skirmishes of an encounter which pits his eighth placed team against opponents 15 positions below them in the table.
Reflecting upon United’s performance against County, which saw Nick Blackman, Paul Gallagher and Ryan Flynn go close, Maguire said: “I felt we played well.
“It was another good performance and we felt comfortable at one stage but, as we know, anything can happen in this league.
“We felt we’d done enough to win but with a bit more of a cutting edge we won’t be far away.”