‘Sheffield United will want to stop us winning the league’ – Andy Holdsworth’s warning to Sheffield Wednesday’s young guns ahead of their title decider
The title is in their own hands.
Sheffield Wednesday's Under-18s face neighbours Sheffield United in their final fixture of the regular season knowing a draw will see them win the Professional Development North League.
Buoyed after a comfortable 2-0 victory over Coventry City at Middlewood Road earlier this week, Andy Holdsworth's side will head into the Sheffield derby at Shirecliffe on Saturday (KO 1.00pm) in good spirits.
Boss Holdsworth told The Star: "The lads have worked so hard to put themselves in this position. They have been fantastic all season.
"It is not the be all and end all if they don't win the league. Don't get me wrong, it would be a disappointment but we have still have got the play-offs which is another exciting end to the season."
Strikes either side of half-time from midfield duo Liam Shaw and Elliott Vasalo ensured the Owls prevailed against the Sky Blues in a one-sided contest. The result means Wednesday have won seven of their last nine league outings.
"We have said to the lads that the youth team days are probably some of the best days of your life because you are with your mates and you have grown up with them," said Holdsworth.
"These lads may never get an opportunity to go on and win something ever again whether they have a long career in the game or whether they don't and fall short at certain levels."
Holdsworth has warned his youngsters that United will be desperate to prevent the Owls lifting the championship.
"They will want to stop us winning the league; there is no doubt about that," he said. "They will try everything to do that.
"Hopefully our lads will come good and put in a good performance."
It finished one apiece when the Owls last met the Blades back in November. Shaw's strike in added on time cancelled out Jean Belehouan's 75th minute opener and sparked wild celebration scenes.
Holdsworth admitted: "If it is anything like the last game, it will be tough. That was probably one of the toughest home games we have had this season.
"United are a hard-working team and have quality in certain areas of the pitch which we know about.
"It is going to be an exciting game. I'm not from Sheffield but I know what it (the derby) means to quite a few of the individuals in the office and the players from the area.
“There will be quite a few people going to watch it but the lads have got to play the game and not the occasion. They have got to do what they have done most of the season to get what they deserve.
"It will probably be the first time they have played under pressure in terms of playing to win something.
"We are all about development and trying to make the players better but everybody wants to win. Now it is the nitty gritty when little slips and mistakes etc might creep in.
"Saturday is a whole new ball game for these kids."