Sheffield United v Sheffield Wednesday preview: Steel City derby live on Sky Sports Football
Last Updated: 12/01/18 6:37pm
Sheffield United could hand debuts to Ryan Leonard, Lee Evans and James Wilson against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday, live on Sky Sports Football from 7pm.
All three joined the club this week and boss Chris Wilder could throw them straight into his side as the Blades try and achieve a first Steel City derby double since 2005-06.
Wilder could also recall a number of players after he made nine changes for the FA Cup win at Ipswich last week. Striker Ched Evans has returned to full training after an ankle injury, but is not ready for match action and defender Kieron Freeman (knee) and midfielder David Brooks (glandular fever) are still out.
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New Sheffield Wednesday boss Jos Luhukay has a baptism of fire as he takes his side across the city for his first game in charge. Luhukay only had a watching brief at Carlisle in the FA Cup last week following his appointment as Carlos Carvalhal's successor last week.
The Dutchman was coy on which of his injured players will be available at Bramall Lane, but his injury list remains lengthy. Keiren Westwood (rib), Gary Hooper, Barry Bannan, Jack Hunt (all hip), Sam Hutchinson (knee) are just some of the first-teamers struggling with injuries.
The Blades have lost only one of their last 14 home matches against Wednesday in all competitions (W5 D8), a 2-1 defeat in February 2009.
This is the first league meeting between the sides at Bramall Lane in the Championship since September 2009 - Sheffield United won 3-2, with the match also played on a Friday.
Sheffield United haven't done a league double over their Steel City rivals since 2005/06, winning 1-0 at Bramall Lane and 2-1 at Hillsborough under Neil Warnock in the last season in which they won promotion to the Premier League.
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Sheffield Wednesday are 15 points worse off after 26 league matches this season than they were last season - the Owls have 30 so far, and gained 45 as this stage last year.
Leon Clarke has scored six goals in five previous Football League matches against the Owls, averaging a goal every 49 minutes. Clarke scored a brace in this season's reverse fixture - however, he failed to score in four Steel City league derbies when playing for Sheffield Wednesday.
The Owls have lost their last two league games by two or more goals without scoring, last enduring a run of three defeats by this margin without finding the net in September 1999 (a run of four), which ended with an 8-0 defeat at Newcastle.
A new era begins for Sheffield Wednesday under Jos Luhukay, and what a place it is for him to start! If he didn't know what the Steel City derby was about already, he will by the end of Friday night. It's a real baptism of fire for him.
The first game between these two at Hillsborough was one of the games of the season in the Championship and, once again, this is a tough one to call. I'm going to have to go for an entertaining draw.
David Prutton predicts: 2-2 with Leon Clarke to score first (50/1 with Sky Bet)