Alan Knill, Sheffield United’s assistant manager, is preparing to act as a touchline peacemaker during tomorrow’s FA Cup clash at Bolton Wanderers.
The second round tie, which pits Chris Wilder’s side against the team directly above them in the League One table, threatens to be fiery affair because of the close relationship between the respective clubs.
Wilder, Knill and Phil Parkinson started their playing careers together at Southampton while Steve Parkin, the Bolton manager’s number two, is a well-known United supporter.
Lee Butler, now goalkeeping coach at the Macron Stadium, worked with Wilder and Halifax Town and Knill said: “It might get heated because, although they’re different characters, both Chris and Phil can get like that. So it might be up to me to calm things down.
“Joking aside, they (Bolton) have got good people in charge. I’ve known Phil for years, he was with Chris and I at Southampton although obviously I was the older one. Then, Phil and I were at Bury together later on and you keep in touch. Steve (Parkin) we’ve both known for years too and then there’s ‘Butts’ as well.”
United, who remained two points behind second-placed Bolton following Tuesday’s defeat by Walsall, were narrowly beaten by Parkinson’s side on the opening day of the season.
Knill, who confirmed James Wilson (ankle) and Jake Wright (hamstring) will both miss out, said: “I’ve think they’ve got better and we’ve definitely got better since then. I thought we should have come away with something.”
On-loan defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell is ineligible for selection after parent club Wolves refused him permission to play. Paul Lambert, Wilder’s counterpart at Molineux, watched United game against Jon Whitney’s side amid fears he could recall the centre-half in January.
“We’ve not had any feed back,” Knill said. “Their manager might sit in the stand and think, hopefully, he won’t be going back and playing in their first team. But he’s their player. That’s the bottom line.”