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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Heckingbottom arrival could give Leeds a lift

Sheffield United make little appeal for Yorkshire derby

Leeds may benefit from Paul Heckingbottom's appointment
1 of 1

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 12.30pm Saturday

Promotion dreams have faded for Sheffield United and Leeds since the turn of the year but both will be trying to reignite their season with a victory in a televised Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.

The Blades are odds-on favourites but the value bet is to side with the visitors, who may benefit from an immediate bounce after the appointment of Paul Heckingbottom as manager this week.

Both teams have struggled in recent times.

Leeds picked up just two points from their last six games, prompting the board to dismiss Thomas Christiansen.

But Sheffield United have also gone through a poor spell, winning just two of their last 13 fixtures.

Blades' manager Chris Wilder is not under any pressure and has plenty of credit in the bank after an overwhelmingly successful 21 months in charge.

But Wilder's side have been finding life much tougher recently and the markets may not have caught up with the club's poor form.

United have been unlucky on some occasions, losing high-profile televised matches at home to Bristol City (2-1) and Aston Villa (1-0) despite dominating them for long periods.

But they looked short of confidence in last Saturday's 3-0 loss at leaders Wolves and are hard to trust as such strong favourites.

Injuries and suspensions have been holding back Leeds but Heckingbottom has a more balanced squad to pick from with key centre-back Pontus Jansson recovered from an ankle injury and midfield duo Kalvin Phillips and Eunan O'Kane available after bans.

Leeds should have a stronger spine than during last Saturday's 4-1 loss at home to Cardiff and they possess enough quality in attack to cause the Blades problems.

A closely-fought game is in store but Leeds have every chance of winning it and look overpriced.

1pt 41-10 188Bet

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Team news
Sheffield United
Simon Moore starts a three-game ban and Paul Coutts is out long-term. Jamal Blackman lacks match fitness but might get the nod ahead of Simon Eastwood in goal. David Brooks and Ched Evans played in a development match in midweek but lack match fitness.

Gaetano Berardi, Samuel Saiz and Liam Cooper are suspended and Luke Ayling has missed the last month through injury. New signing Tyler Roberts is a doubt but Kalvin Phillips and Eunan O'Kane are available after suspensions and Pontus Jansson (ankle) is available.

Key stat
Sheffield United have won one of their last seven home league games.

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Sheffield United have won one of their last seven home league games
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