Who’d make a Leeds and Sheffield United combined XI? We say…
Second against third. Two points in it. Nobody is letting up.
Nine games to go, automatic promotion essentially two from three teams at this point, and that sickening feeling of hope/despair/get me out of here immediately creeping in.
“With 15th now more or less an impossibility, our new comfort blanket is negativity in the face of positivity, moaning about how not putting seven past Reading was a missed opportunity to improve the goal difference,” wrote Leeds fan Gary Hartley on FFT this week (below).
Nope, we do not envy fans of Norwich, Leeds and Sheffield United right now – but we’re very much allowed to look forward to Saturday’s scintillating clash between the latter two teams at Elland Road.
As a precursor, we asked the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Leon Wobschall – who covers both teams – for his combined XI ahead of this Satdee humdinger…
You can find Leon Wobschall on Twitter @LeonWobYP
Dean Henderson (Sheffield United)
You might have played for Real Madrid, pal, but sorry Kiko Casilla: you’re not making it past Manchester United’s 22-year-old loanee Henderson in Leon’s book.
Fair enough, though: the Spaniard has only played nine league games for Leeds so far, and Sheffield United have conceded at a rate of less than a goal per game this season (34 in 37).
Pontus Jansson (Leeds) • John Egan (Sheffield United) • Jack O'Connell (Sheffield United)
How many current Championship players have turned out in a World Cup quarter-final? (*receives special post-it note*) How many current players other than fellow Sweden international Marcus Olsson have have turned out in a World Cup quarter-final? Never mind: Jansson is an easy pick here.
Sheffield United essentially blew their budget on £4m Egan from Brentford last summer, meanwhile – and what a shrewd decision that’s turned out to be. He's thrived alongside the excellent O’Connell, another buy from Brentford in July 2016, and the Blades have been razor-sharp at the back this term.
Pablo Hernandez (Leeds) • Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United) • John Fleck (Sheffield United) • Kalvin Phillips (Leeds) • Gianni Alioski (Leeds)
Hernandez has been in ludicrous form for Leeds this season – as recent corkers against Reading and West Brom will attest – and he’s now into double figures for both goals and assists. The best player in the Championship? You bet.
Fellow White Phillips adds steel at the base of midfield here, while Macedonian marvel Alioski has been an ever-present threat down the left even when playing further back.
Representing Sheffield United is loanee-turned-permanent transfer Norwood; comfortably one of the league’s standout stars this season. Ex-Rangers tyro Fleck makes up a fine quintet.
Billy Sharp (Sheffield United), Kemar Roofe (Leeds)
OK, so Roofe is currently sidelined through injury at the worst possible time, but his 14 goals have been absolutely crucial to getting Leeds out of some tight spots; never more so than over Christmas, when late goals against Blackburn and Aston Villa rescued five points.
Only one player has bagged more goals in the second tier than the evergreen Sharp, meanwhile, who’d only ever netted 15 goals at this level once before this campaign. Given everything he’s been through, who wouldn’t begrudge him a magical promotion at the end of a hard season?