SHEFFIELD UNITED: We are now the team to beat in League One says United boss Danny Wilson

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THE bookies disagree.

Some of his club’s own supporters do too.

But, speaking on the eve of the new League One campaign, Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson warned the path towards promotion will be far from smooth.

“I actually think it’s going to be harder this time around,” he said. “Much harder in fact.

“People keep telling us the competition should be easier but, personally, I don’t believe a word.”

Wilson’s ominous prognosis is bound to raise eyebrows among those who, with fellow heavyweights Charlton Athletic, Sheffield Wednesday and Huddersfield Town now plying their trade in the Championship, insist United are odds on favourites to claim top spot.

The former Northern Ireland international, though, outlined why this theory is flawed.

“We are up there to be shot at now,” Wilson said. “We are going to be the ones that everyone in the division wants to beat.

“That’s not being conceited. Quite the opposite. It’s just telling it how it is.”

Wilson’s suspicions proved correct when Graham Turner, whose Shrewsbury Town side visit Bramall Lane tomorrow, described the match as being “one to savour.”

“We can give it a real good go in this division,” Turner, who four months ago led Town out of League Two, continued. “My players enjoy hard work and we should relish these occasions.”

United, who will give fitness tests to John Cofie, Chris Porter, Ryan Flynn and Matt Hill on the morning of the game, mustered 90 points and scored 92 goals en route to third in the table last term.

Wilson, admitting he is unable to re-enter the transfer market until some of the squad’s high-earners are sold, said: “We’ve got good players here. Make no mistake about that.

“And we’ve got good characters too. I was speaking to Tony (McMahon) earlier this week about how he was getting on after coming to us from Middlesbrough and he told me that he’d never settled in anywhere as fast.

“For me, that was great to hear and it says a lot about the dressing room. The experience of last year will stand us in good stead.”

“You need those characters,” Wilson added. “How many times have you seen a player who has done really well in the Premier League get a move to a really big club and fail to shine?

“It’s exactly the same here, only at a lower level of course.”

Town, who finished second in the fourth tier last season, hope to name defender Reuben Hazell in their starting eleven tomorrow.

Should the hip injury which prevented Cofie from featuring in the Capital One Cup tie against Burton Albion heal in time, Wilson could pair the on-loan youngster with fellow centre-forward Nick Blackman in attack.

“Shrewsbury are well drilled and they are very committed,” he said. “You wouldn’t expect anything less from one of Graham’s teams.

“They’ve got some potential match-winners in their squad too. Paul Parry has always been a very good player and now he’s got the experience to go with that while I always liked the lad (Marvin) Morgan up front too.

“We’ve got one or two little niggles but some or all of them could be fit.”