Sheffield United begin life under Paul Heckingbottom as the Blades welcome Bristol City to Bramall Lane.
Victory could lift the Blades as high as 12th in the table, whereas Bristol City likewise can go 12th in the table with a win as long as Nigel Pearson’s Robins record a huge winning margin of seven goals or more.
John Fleck is ruled out for Sheffield United after suffering illness during their midweek victory at Reading.
Robin Olsen (muscle), Oli McBurnie (Coronavirus) and Jack O’Connell (knee) are absent.
Bristol City will be without Joe Williams after the 24 year-old suffered a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s win at home to Stoke City.
Robbie Cundy (knee), Tommy Conway (ankle), Matty James (foot) Andy King and George Tanner (both hamstring) are ruled out.
- Sheffield United have won just two of their last six league meetings against Bristol City (W2, L4), although both wins came away at Ashton Gate.
- Bristol City have won each of their last three league visits to Bramall Lane (W3), albeit without keeping a clean sheet.
- The Blades picked up just nine points out of ten league games under Heckingbottom when he took interim charge last season (W3, L7).
- Nigel Pearson’s Robins have conceded three goals in each of their last three away trips (L3).
- Sheffield Utd drew their only previous match refereed by Geoff Eltringham this season – in which they held Preston to a 2-2 draw at home in September.
Consistency has simply been Sheffield United’s biggest issue this season on top of continuous defensive issues, which cost Slavisa Jokanovic his job despite the team making progress in their last two games with excellent clean sheets.
Heckingbottom though is a slightly surprise replacement given that he is a reminder of the Blades’ issues last season and they didn’t exactly improve under him at end of last season, yet he knows the club well enough to at least get the team building towards a top-flight return.
Bristol City also boast defensive issues of their own but were able to dig deep on Wednesday to snatch a clinical winner, before defending hard against waves of Stoke attacks to ultimately pick up a morale boosting win given their own inconsistency.
The first goal though feels like it could well be crucial because if Sheffield Utd strike first, I can see the new manager bounce motivating them to victory, otherwise Bristol City will fancy their chances if can get an early lead but a draw would be the best bet.
Prediction: Sheffield United 1-1 Bristol City
Result: Sheffield United 2-0 Bristol City