FA Cup Preview: Sheffield United Vs Hull City, Bramhall Lane, Sheffield, Saturday 14th February, 2008, 15:00 GMT.
A lot has changed since Sheffield United last took on their Yorkshire rivals Hull City at Bramhall Lane. Kevin Blackwell will look to recreate the 2-0 victory that dented the Tigers chances of Automatic Promotion to the Premiership last season.
The Blades were still in the hunt for a playoff berth last season after Blackwell dragged the pround South Yorkshire team up from fifth from bottom of the Championship. However, the playoffs were a bridge too far for Blackwell's Blades, but maybe not this season.
This season the resharpened Blades are once again in the hunt for promotion and sitting in fifth place right in the chasing pack for that Automatic Promotion spot. Kevin Blackwell will be hoping that a good performance in the FA Cup against Premiership opposition will help to keep momentum for the rest of the season.
Last season the Blades managed to gain the scalps of Manchester City and Bolton from the Premiership before falling to Middlesbrough. They will be hoping to recreate some of that FA Cup magic and give Hull a St. Valentines Day Massacre.
The nucleaus of both defences are the same as last season with Sheffield United playing four of last season's victorious team (Kenny, Naughton, Naysmith and Kilgallon) in the loss against arch rivals Sheffield Wednesday last week.
Hull City have been boasting six Championship regulars from last season. From the last fixture between the to rivals, Rickets, Dawson, Turner, Marney, Ashbee, and Fagan are still regulars in the Hull City lineup. However, Phil Brown may well ring the changes for this fixture to rest first team regulars, as he has done in previous rounds.
Some of Brown's changes could be forced on him due to injuries, as record signing Jimmy Bullard is still struggling with a knee problem and could face a late fitness test along with skipper Ian Ashbee, Boaz Myhill and Craig Fagan.
Some good news on the horizon for the Tigers could be the return of Anthony Gardner who has been out of action for five months, along with the possible return of Nick Barmby who will be aiming to fight back into the Tiger's first team.
The Baldes also have some injury worries with Ugo Ehiogu, Gary Speed and Derek Geary all out and their influential skipper Chris Morgan still struggling with a hamstring injury. Kevin Blackwell will also have to contend with the suspension of star striker Darius Henderson who is suspended and the loss of Arturo Lupoli, Jamie Ward and Leigh Bromby who are all cup-tied.
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