Bradford City vs Sheffield United preview
@Valley Parade on Saturday 24 August, 2013
By Gareth Walker
Bradford City will aim to bounce back from a disappointing defeat at Port Vale last Saturday when we welcome promotion favourites Sheffield United to Valley Parade for a mouth-watering Yorkshire Derby this weekend.
The performance at Vale Park was in stark contrast to those seen in the scintillating demolition of Carlisle United and the battling draw with Bristol City. And Phil Parkinson will be hoping that the raucous atmosphere created by a bumper crowd will bring out the best in his squad as they try to make amends.
It will not be an easy task for the Bantams as fitness concerns have been raised this week over Mark Yeates and the integral James Hanson. Yeates seems to be the most likely to play, but it is the fractured wrist of Hanson that is extremely worrying.
As a massive fan of Big James, it is difficult for me to comprehend how anyone can be dismissive of his importance to the team, and this has only been emphasised by the way that he has taken the step up to League One completely in his stride. His performance against Carlisle a fortnight ago was one of the best targetman displays of recent years, one which rendered him at times unplayable. The sooner he is back at full fitness the better for all concerned at BD8.
One man in particular who will be hoping that Hanson makes a speedy recovery is his strike partner Nahki Wells. The Bermudian’s form so far this season has been nothing short of devastating as he has knocked in four goals in four games to firmly underline his reputation as one of the hottest properties in the lower leagues.
Wells’ understanding with Hanson has seen them develop into the best strike partnership that we have seen at Valley Parade since Lee Mills and Robbie Blake, and it is difficult to imagine either being as effective without the other playing at his side. I’m sure that Nahki will be hoping that the big Number Nine is fit and raring to go on Saturday, as he aims to break a City scoring record by netting in eight consecutive games.
Sheffield United will provide tough opposition as we look to get back on track. The Blades are once again tipped to be amongst the division’s front runners despite having to cut their cloth accordingly after two unsuccessful promotion attempts.
United have found it tough going in the third tier, having been in the Premier League a mere six years ago. The predicament that they face of being the Big Club in the division and the team that every player wants to play well against is one which we ourselves are particularly familiar with, following our recent experiences in League Two.
With Rangers’ legend David Weir having taken over the managerial reins from Danny Wilson, there have been one or two changes at Bramall Lane over the summer months. In particular, Weir has made a concerted effort to inject some much needed goals into the side that have been missing since Ched Evans was imprisoned in April 2012. The men tasked with firing the South Yorkshire side to promotion are new signings Febian Brandy and the much sought-after Lyle Taylor, who will both be worth keeping an eye on during Saturday’s proceedings.
Weir himself is tipped for a bright managerial future having learned his trade under David Moyes at Everton. The Blades supporters will be hoping that he can succeed where Wilson failed.
City are likely to be unchanged if Yeates and Hanson are passed fit. However, if the injured duo fail to recover in time then Kyel Reid and Alan Connell will stand by to replace them, that is unless Parkinson follows up his reported interest in Newcastle Starlet Haris Vuckic. Andy Gray is progressing well from the broken arm injury which he picked up during the first pre-season friendly against Guiseley but is unlikely to be ready to feature against his former side.
With both sides having taken four points from their opening three games so far this season, everyone will be looking at Saturday’s fixture to give them some indication as to how the campaign will pan out from here.