Sheffield United: Parkinson looks forward to Blades test

Phil Parkinson holds aloft the League Two Play-Off trophy
Phil Parkinson holds aloft the League Two Play-Off trophy
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Phil Parkinson, the Bradford City manager, has admitted that the visit of Sheffield United was among the first fixtures he looked for when the new League One schedule was unveiled.

But Parkinson, who steered his team to promotion last season, believes the odds will be stacked against David Weir’s side at Valley Parade tomorrow.

“It’s a fixture you quickly scanned down the list to find,” Parkinson said. “Sheffield United are a team that have done well at this level over the last couple of years and it’s a Yorkshire derby.

“These are two tremendous clubs with good histories and I’m sure it’s going to be a cracking atmosphere.

“Obviously the (Sheffield United) manager is trying to change the way they play and has brought in a lot of new players.

“We’ve got to make sure our rhythm of playing as a team who have been together for a while gives us an advantage tomorrow.”

City famously reached the Capital One Cup final three months before returning to Wembley for May’s League Two showpiece with Town.

Weir has embarked upon an ambitious footballing project since being unveiled as Danny Wilson’s permanent successor 10 weeks ago.

But Parkinson, who hopes James Hanson (hand) and Mark Yeates (knee) will both be passed fit to face United, insisted: “People talk about different systems and get wrapped up in new-fangled formations but often it’s just a slight adaption of what we already know.

“I don’t think Sheffield are going to offer anything new that we’ve never seen before.”

Yeates, who made nearly 60 appearances for United before joining Watford in July 2011, has been identified as a potential match-winner by City captain Gary Jones.

“Yeatesy is a great player with both feet. He has gelled into the team like he’s been here for a while,” Jones said. “He’s knuckled down and been prepared to put the work in but you can also see that quality about him. He can win a game on his own at times.

“He’s come down from the Championship and not many would have done that. He’s fitted in to our system, the way we play and our work ethic fantastically well.”

Yeates, aged 28, opted for a move to City rather than Millwall after being informed his contract at Vicarage Road was not being renewed.

“Signing Mark Yeates has been a boost for everyone,” Jones said. “We’ve got a really good squad and when you’ve got players like that coming in, it makes things even better.

“Credit to him that he chose to come to Bradford City. That shows we are a big club.”