Chris Morgan, the Sheffield United manager, has refused to describe today’s League One meeting with Preston North End as a grudge match, writes James Shield.
Simon Grayson, whose Huddersfield Town side beat United in last term’s play-off final, took charge of this afternoon’s visitors two months ago after parting company with the West Yorkshire club midway through their Championship campaign.
United, already assured of a top six finish, enter the end of season knockouts again next week. But Morgan, asked whether Grayson’s presence in the opposition dug-out lends the final match of the regular fixture programme an extra edge, said: “Not at all. It’s not even an issue as far as anyone here is concerned and I doubt it is for Simon either.
“Preston are a good club with good people behind the scenes but, as far as I’m concerned, this game is all about us and they’ll know what I mean by that.
“Simon has done well at Preston and he’s got them going again, playing good football, after coming in there.
“I also know Glynn Snodin, his assistant, very well but the only thing I’m focused on is us and I’m sure the same goes for them.”
Morgan added: “Like us, Preston will want to end on a high. But I’m sure they’ll want to get into the summer and really going to work then.”
United will discover their semi-final opponents immediately after the clash against Preston with Football League chiefs expected to schedule the first leg of their semi-final on Friday evening because arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday entertain Middlesbrough at Hillsborough the following day.
Morgan, who admitted that the prospect of a double header against either Doncaster Rovers, Swindon, Brentford or Yeovil Town had cast a shadow over Tuesday’s performance at Crewe Alexandra, suggested Danny Higginbotham could be excused from duty this afternoon after aggravating a long-standing back complaint.
However Morgan insisted: “Danny should be okay for the play-offs. He’s had a bad back and it’s transferred itself to his hamstring which often happens.
“However, he’s had an x-ray and that hasn’t shown anything up so we think it’s probably neurological. We’ll take a look at him but he’s a tough and determined lad.
“Equally, though, we won’t take any risks.”