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Preview: Chesterfield vs. Sheffield United - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Chesterfield vs. Sheffield United - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's friendly clash between Chesterfield and Sheffield United, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Four days on from coming up short against Sheffield Wednesday, Chesterfield prepare for battle against the Owls' local adversaries Sheffield United at the Technique Stadium for Saturday's friendly.

The hosts have a record of two wins and one draw to show from their trio of friendly matches so far this summer, while the Blades will take to the field for the first time since the end of their successful 2022-23 Championship campaign.

Match preview

The Chesterfield fanbase experienced almost every emotion imaginable during their unforgettable National League playoff campaign, having finished third in the table behind Wrexham and Notts County to bypass the quarter-final stage and set up a semi-final with Bromley.

A pulsating 3-2 win after extra time punched Chesterfield's ticket to Wembley, where Notts County lay in wait, and despite taking the lead twice at Wembley, Paul Cook's side were pegged back on another two occasions before Darren Oldaker and Jeff King crucially fluffed their lines from 12 yards.

That defeat marked a gut-wrenching end to an otherwise stunning campaign for Chesterfield, who achieved their highest National League finish since their relegation from League Two in the 2017-18 season, and the Spireites continued their recent trend of going one better in the National League playoffs.

Beaten quarter-finalists in 2021, losing semi-finalists in 2022 and falling at the final hurdle in 2023, the more superstitious of Chesterfield supporters may believe that 2024 will be their year if that pattern is to be followed, and they opened their pre-season period with a 9-0 obliteration of Matlock Town before seeing off Alfreton Town 5-1.

However, the step-up in quality against Sheffield Wednesday proved a bridge too far for Chesterfield, who broke the deadlock on Tuesday but ultimately succumbed to a 2-1 defeat, as Lee Gregory notched a brace for the Championship-bound Owls in a testimonial for Drew Talbot, who represented both clubs during his career.

Both Sheffield-based clubs revelled in their promotion parades at the end of the 2022-23 season, as Sheffield United's brief exile from the Premier League came to an end with a second-placed finish in the Championship behind runaway leaders Burnley.

Four days on from being eliminated in the FA Cup semi-finals at the hands of treble-winners Manchester City, Blades fans quickly turned their frowns upside down as a 2-0 success over West Bromwich Albion on April 26 confirmed their return to the big time, two years on from finishing bottom of the pile in the Premier League.

A total of 91 points saw Paul Heckingbottom's crop finish 11 points clear of fellow promotees Luton Town, while reaching the last four of the FA Cup is nothing to be sniffed at either, but the Blades' pre-season run-in is not the most challenging by any stretch of the imagination.

Indeed, Sheffield United will also tackle Estoril, Rotherham United, Girona, Derby County and Stuttgart before hosting Crystal Palace in their opening game of the new Premier League season, and the Blades are yet to add any new faces to their ranks ahead of their top-flight comeback, despite talk of a possible reunion with Kyle Walker.

There may now be four divisions separating Chesterfield and Sheffield United in the football pyramid, but the two sides were familiar foes back in the day, with the Blades most recently edging a five-goal thriller 3-2 in the 2016-17 League One campaign.

Chesterfield friendly form:
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Chesterfield new boys Tom Naylor and Will Grigg both enjoyed 68 minutes of action for their new side against Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, and the former Wigan Athletic duo ought to line up from the off once again this weekend.

The hosts have waved goodbye to a good chunk of players, though, including attacker Michael Gyasi, who departed for Boston United earlier this week, while Tom Whelan, Jack Clarke and Ross Fitzsimons have also bid farewell.

A couple of trialists could also be put through their paces on Saturday, while Jamie Grimes is poised to wear the captain's armband from the heart of defence.

As mentioned, Sheffield United fans are still eagerly anticipating their side's first acquisition of the summer window, but Tunisian midfielder Anis Slimane is understood to be on the verge of swapping Brondby for Bramall Lane.

However, long-serving striker Billy Sharp has now packed his bags alongside Enda Stevens - now on the books at Stoke City - and the injury-plagued Jack O'Connell, who had not played for the club since September 2020 due to a serious knee injury.

It remains to be seen if George Baldock, Sander Berge, John Egan, Anel Ahmedhodzic, Iliman Ndiaye, Adam Davies and Ismaila Coulibaly will be back from their international exertions for Saturday's game, but Heckingbottom is hopeful that striker Rhian Brewster will recover from his latest injury setback in time for the new season.

Chesterfield possible starting lineup:
Tyrer; Williams, Grimes, Maguire, Horton; Naylor, Banks; King, Mandeville, Dobra; Grigg

Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Foderingham; Robinson, Egan, Basham; Bogle, Norwood, Fleck, Norrington-Davies; Ndiaye, Osborn; McBurnie

We say: Chesterfield 1-2 Sheffield United

Chesterfield certainly flaunted an affinity for goalscoring in their earliest pre-season friendlies, albeit against much less revered opposition than Premier League-bound Sheffield United, whose depleted squad could still come under the cosh.

The hosts are certainly much further along in their pre-season preparations than Heckingbottom's side, but the quality at the Blades' disposal should see them through to a slender success.

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