Soccer Football – Carabao Cup – West Bromwich Albion v Sheffield United – The Hawthorns, West Bromwich, Britain – August 11, 2022 Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom, Action Images/Matthew Childs EDITORIAL USE ONLY. Not for use with unauthorized audio, video, data, device lists, club/league logos or “live” services. Online use during the game limited to 75 images, without video emulation. It is not used in single club/league/player betting, games or publications. Contact your account representative for more details.
Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom has admitted he believes the Championship’s automatic promotion race will go all the way, speaking to Yorkshire Live ahead of his team’s clash against Watford this afternoon.
Currently four points clear of third-placed Middlesbrough, they find themselves in a much less comfortable position than a fortnight ago, with defeats against Boro and Millwall allowing the former to capitalize and close the gap.
This makes today’s game at Bramall Lane an incredibly important one for the Blades, who will be keen to bolster their defense after conceding six goals in their previous two league games.
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Boro, however, also have a tough task on their hands today as they prepare to head to The Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion, who have been terrific under Carlos Corberan during his time in charge despite recent Baggies losses.
At best today, United can be seven points clear of Boro, who also has one game left to play, something that will put them in a strong position going into the rest of the season.
But Heckingbottom has admitted that this is likely to be a close race, which could give Boro a bit of extra encouragement.
He said: “No matter how long it takes, we fight until we get it, or we fight until we don’t.
“Sometimes when I sit here and answer questions, you might think they’re clichés, but they’re not.
“This league shows that even when the teams have been excellent, it goes until the last moment. We don’t expect anything different this year.”
The main asset Boro has at his disposal is his squad depth and that should allow them to continue to thrive, even as some injuries come into play.
It’s a huge boost for them to have managed to sign Dan Barlaser in January, because that will allow Michael Carrick to manage Jonny Howson’s playing time. At 34, the latter should not look to play too many games if he wants to limit the possibility of injury.
Even wide where they don’t have too many orthodox options, others can step up without causing too much disruption because of the depth they have in other areas.
For example, Marcus Forss can operate there with Cameron Archer capable of upplaying and vice versa, with the latter showing that he can be a wide threat.
However, the Blades have some great quality players and a decent strength in depth too, so neither side should not be underestimated during the final months of the campaign.
Whoever is in the better frame of mind could make the difference between who takes second place and who has to settle for the play-offs.