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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Previewing Sheffield United vs QPR

Sheffield United welcome back experienced defender David Unsworth to the squad but could be missing a handful of other players against QPR.
Craig Short, Leigh Bromby and Alan Quinn all missed the Sheffield derby with knocks and are likely to be absent once again.
That means on-loan Neill Collins, who made his Blades bow in that match, and Chris Armstrong could continue in defence with Unsworth slotting in at left-back.
Phil Jagielka has suffered from illness recently but is expected to be fit, while Danny Webber could make his return to the side after hamstring problems.
Alan Wright has left the club to join Derby on a one month loan deal.
Marc Bircham should return to the QPR squad after missing the .
2-1 defeat at Crystal Palace with a calf injury.
His return is welcome news for caretaker-manager Gary Waddock, who learned earlier this week that winger Martin Rowlands would miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Waddock will also be without winger Gareth Ainsworth and defender Mauro Milanese at Bramall Lane. Both picked up their fifth bookings of the season in the 1-0 win over Millwall on February 11, and serve one-match bans.
Waddock had also hoped that skipper Kevin Gallen might recover from a back injury to feature in this match, but the 30-year-old forward missed the reserve clash with Reading.
Goalkeeper Simon Royce (hip) and defender Dominic Shimmin (groin) miss out, while striker Paul Furlong hopes for a recall after stepping off the bench to score at Palace


Warnock on strike options
Neil Warnock looks set to be overloaded with striking talent ahead of Saturday's vital Championship showdown with QPR.
Bruce Dyer and Ade Akinbiyi have been the starting duo for the past two games but Geoff Horsfield and Danny Webber are now available.
Steven Kabba has been on the substitutes bench recently, whilst Neil Shipperley and Brian Deane both played in the reserves in midweek.
Warnock revealed: "Geoff has had a good week in training, so have one or two others, I've never had such a large and competitive squad but you can only pick so many.
"If Webber had been involved in the reserves in midweek I may have been tempted to start with him, although we did have a practice match with him involved. He is bursting to get back into the team.
"I don't think no-one knows our best strike partnership but I think, now the transfer window is in place, that you need at least six strikers."

Blades v QPR - team news
United have David Unsworth and Danny Webber available for the visit of QPR.
Unsworth has served a three-match ban following his sending off against Watford, whilst Webber has finally strugged off the hamstring problem he sustained at Ipswich last month.
Central defenders Chris Morgan and Neill Collins are OK, despite playing in last week's Sheffield derby with injuries, whilst Phil Jagielka is likely to be fit after missing training in midweek due to illness.
United will be without Leigh Bromby (groin), Alan Quinn (leg) and Craig Short (hamstring), who will all be attempting to regain their fitness ahead of the visit of Crewe next week.
Former Blades target Marc Bircham could return to the QPR team after coming through a midweek reserve game but Gareth Ainsworth and Mauro Milanese are both suspended.
Kevin Gallen and goalkeeper Simon Royce have recommenced training after injury problems but are unlikely to be considered, whilst young striker Scott Donnelly is out with a bruised foot.
Rangers have added 16-year-old left-back Andrew Howell to their squad to make the trip.

Confident Warnock lets rivals do all the worrying
NEIL Warnock hadn't picked Phil Barnes' brain ahead of yesterday's media briefing before holding court with the press.
Barnes, Sheffield United's goalkeeping number two, has the lowdown on QPR having been signed as an emergency stop-gap by then manager Ian Holloway for the Londoners' recent trip to Leeds.But those lucky enough to have an invite into Warnock's inner sanctum at Shirecliffe were left in no doubt that gleaning inside information on tomorrow's visitors to Bramall Lane did not top his list of priorities.Instead, with promotion to the Premiership now tantalisingly close, United's commader-in-chief is determined his troops will focus only on themselves during the 11 games which will decide where they are plying their trades next season
.Pouring over details of the oppositions' strengths and weaknesses is not foremost in Warnock's mind."For me, we've got to concentrate on what we can do, not worry about anyone else," he said."We know all about QPR and we know they've got players who are capable of hurting other teams."After all, we've had Paul Furlong here and Danny Shittu is one of the best centre-halves around at this level."
But we've got plenty of strengths and it's important we don't forget that."The theory behind Warnock's thinking is plain to see.United will start the afternoon in second place, 10 points ahead of their nearest challengers, Watford.QPR, having failed to become the sum total of their parts, are drifting in mid-table.With a new manager at the helm, QPR's approach may be slightly different to the one they employed in August at Loftus Road, Warnock conceded.Although the reasons behind the 2-1 defeat United suffered that day have long since evaporated - "That was then, this is now," the Lane boss insisted - this wily old streetfighter has ensured the memory has lingered around the training ground this week."We didn't impose ourselves down there, they got the goal and because of that we couldn't get back into it," continued Warnock."We put in the effort without really putting our stamp on things and that can't happen again."I've heard their manager saying he wants to play a bit more football but, and I mean no disrespect by this, I tend to take things like that with a pinch of salt."With Alan Quinn, Leigh Bromby and Craig Short all likely to return next week, Warnock is set to continue with the same squad of players who beat Sheffeld Wednesday 2-1 at Hillsborough last Saturday.But with a welter of options at his disposal in midfield and attack, he reserved the right to tinker slightly with the starting line-up."Everyone knows that they've got to hit top marks to keep a hold of the shirt now," said Warnock."
Often, picking the subsitutes bench has been the hardest thing to do in recent weeks because telling a player he's not going to be involved at all is tough."But, in fairness to all the lads, they've been superb."They know the situation and although it might appear to be easier to get up for a game against Wednesday let me assure you that's not actually the case."Every game left is a cup final which means no one game is bigger than another."
Geoff Horsfield is pressing hard for a starting role after appearing as a second-half substitute during last weekend's 2-1 win at Wednesday while Bruce Dyer, Neil Shipperley, Steven Kabba and possibly even Danny Webber are also vying for a place alongside Ade Akinbiyi.David Unsworth's return from suspension was a major factor behind the decision to allow Alan Wright to join Derby County on loan yesterday.n Tomorrow's game has been designated a 'Kids for a Quid' fixture with under-16s able to take advantage of the discounted rate providing they purchase a ticket by close of business today.Tickets for the visit of QPR are selling well and supporters are strongly advised to reserve their seat in advance to avoid disappointment.The Global Windows stand is already sold out, apart from Blocks G and H where identification is needed both at point of sale and on entry to the stadium. The Hfs Family Enclosure is nearing capacity, while the Bramall Lane Upper Tier is again open to home supporters. Adult ticket prices begin at £19 for this category B fixture.For more information contact the Blades Box Office on 0870 787 1960.james.shield@sheffieldnewspapers.co.uk

Sheffield Today - Less colour as Ian goes gardening
IN football, the only thing you learn to expect is the unexpected.
But by placing Ian Holloway on gardening leave, QPR's hierarchy have ensured that Bramall Lane will be a less colourful place when the Londoners visit South Yorkshire tomorrow.This, after all, is the manager who once predicted during a particularly miserable run of form that: "If I fell in a barrel of boobs, I'd come out sucking my thumb!"Later he celebrating his team's return to winning ways with the memorable phrase: "I couldn't be more chuffed if I were a badger at the start of the mating season."With Holloway tending his begonias at home in St Albans, the post-match press conference may no longer be the hottest ticket in town.But the man charged with reversing QPR's fortunes is convinced that his players possess the ability not only to bring Sheffield United's march to a halt but also ensure a difficult season is remembered for more than just soundbites.Like Holloway, who according to chairman Gianni Paladini has been suspended rather than sacked, Gary Waddock is a popular figure at Loftus Road having made 240 appearances for the club as a player.His first match in charge produced a 1-0 win over Millwall but a 2-1 reverse at the hands of Crystal Palace has left him battling to keep his managerial account in the black.
Despite Paladini's insistence that there is no way back for Holloway, who had been heavily linked with a move to Leicester before the Italian wielded the axe, Waddock's position remains far from secure.But he has already embarked on a complete makeover of the playing style which threatened to serve QPR well at the start of the season before they drifted into mid-table."Everyone has their own ideas about how they want the game played and I have mine," said Waddock, who will be assisted by another QPR old boy Alan McDonald. "I want us to pass the ball and I want plenty of movement. That's the football I believe in.

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