Sheffield United: Blades braced for gruelling run of games

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Nigel Clough has revealed he could be forced tear-up plans for a settled first team squad as Sheffield United attempt to cope with the demands of a congested fixture calendar.

Clough made his admission ahead of tomorrow’s League One encounter at Port Vale which marks the start of a busy festive programme.

United, who face Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup on January 4, host Scunthorpe less than 48 hours after returning from Staffordshire before entering a key period in the race for promotion which pits them against fellow contenders Preston North End, MK Dons and Swindon Town.

Clough told The Star: “We are going to have to look seriously at our selections because there are lots of important games coming up. Some of the lads might be able to get through them all but others won’t.

“Coupled with that, there’s always the possibility that you might pick up some injuries along the way. Fingers crossed we don’t though.”

“There are good players in the squad here and that means we can mix and match,” Clough added. “Often, that’s not the ideal thing to do but, at the same times, it represents a chance for someone who might not have been getting as much football as they’d like to really stake a claim.

“It’s at times like this, though, when it emphasises that trying to achieve success requires more than just the 11 or so who are out there on the pitch. It requires everyone to be switched on and ready to go at all times.”

United’s plans have also been complicated by the fact they face Tottenham Hotspur in a two-legged Capital One Cup semi-final on January 21 and January 28 at White Hart Lane and Bramall Lane respectively.

Clough, who acknowledged enquires have been received for Neill Collins and Stephen McGinn from clubs interested in signing them on loan, added: “Boxing Day is a great day in the football calendar and even better if you can get three points. It is a shame our fixture hasn’t got a local element to it for all those that will be travelling but I am sure, as always, we will take a big following to Vale Park.

“It is a big a game for us, but a difficult proposition. We had a very good win there at the end of last season courtesy of two late goals and we’ll happily take the same again this time.”

Meanwhile, Dominic Calvert-Lewin has joined Stalybridge Celtic on a youth-loan. The 17-year-old could make his debut for the Vanarama Conference North club against Hyde tomorrow.

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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