Preview | Swansea City v Sheffield United
The Jack Army return to the Swansea.com Stadium in their masses for the first time in nearly 18 months for Russell Martin’s first home game in charge of Swansea City this evening (8pm).
Sheffield United – with former Swans Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster in tow – are the visitors to SA1 as head coach Martin gets set to experience a night under the lights on home turf.
The 35-year-old admits he has been overwhelmed by the support and messages of goodwill he and his coaching staff have received since their arrivals just 13 days ago.
And he is looking for his players to deliver a performance that will signal another step forward in their development against a Blades side heavily fancied for an immediate return to the Premier League.
While they suffered a difficult top-flight campaign last term, they retain the core of players who finished ninth the season before and there is no doubting they appear well-equipped to be among the division’s leading contenders.
It means the Swans will start as underdogs in the eyes of many but, with positivity growing and a potential 16,000 crowd in attendance, this promises to be a very special night for any number of reasons.
Midfielders Korey Smith and Liam Walsh are set to miss the clash with the Blades due to calf and hamstring injuries, respectively.
Jay Fulton will also be absent as he serves the final game of his three-match suspension.
However, new signing Flynn Downes is in contention for a debut following his move from Ipswich Town earlier this week
Russell Martin: “We will attack every game trying to do it our way, trying to be the team that dictates how the game goes. We’ll certainly try that no matter if we’re home or away.
“I think it’ll be a really good indicator of where we’re at, and how much we’ve progressed in the short period of time we’ve been here.
“I think it will be our biggest challenge yet. The team that [Sheffield United] can put out will tell you that. The money that they’ve assembled the squad with will tell you that.
“But we’ve got a hungry group of players that are really desperate to show people how good they are, and they have a brilliant chance to do that on Saturday night.
“There’ll be a great crowd and it’ll be on TV as well, so you have to really embrace those challenges.”
Slavisa Jokanovic: ““I offer the club collaboration and that they give it me back. I tell them that I am here to demand, that is part of my job.
“I am demanding of the people around me, on all sides.
“I am happy but there are certain positions where we need a little more,” “Like every other team, we are always looking for help and the club agree with me in that.”
Remember the last time?
Oli McBurnie scored his 11th goal of the season as the Swans moved to within six points of the play-offs following a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on the Blades last visit to SA1.
The Scottish striker tapped home in the 65th minute after being set up by Nathan Dyer, who had latched onto Mike van der Hoorn’s return pass into the box.
It proved a tight encounter in SA1, with not much between the sides, but McBurnie’s strike proved the difference as the Swans claimed a league double over the Blades.
The win moved the Swans onto 40 points from 28 games – six points adrift of sixth-placed Derby.
37 – Oli McBurnie (26) and Rhian Brewster (11) scored 37 goals for Swansea City during their respective spells with the club, the pair return to SA1 for the first time since their departures tonight.
61 – Sheffield United have not win in their last eight visits to SA1 across 61 years. Last tasting success at the Vetch back in November 1958.