Hartlepool v Sheffield Utd: Another road trip is last thing required by Blades

Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins.
Sheffield United boss Nigel Adkins.
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ANYONE thinking that Nigel Adkins’s mind will be elsewhere in the hours leading up to tonight’s clash at Victoria Park will probably be right.

The life of many Football League managers is such that a fair number today will be fitting in fixture obligations in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy alongside attempting to line up some transfer business in the traditionally manic rush ahead of the closure of the summer transfer window.

As planning foresight goes, the decision to schedule cup fixtures to coincide with transfer deadline day is unfortunate at best and, at worst, bizarre – with Adkins forthright in his views.

You sense that Adkins’s belief that the situation is crazy and a recipe for chaos would draw plenty of nodding of heads among his managerial counterparts today.

Adkins, working on some incoming business, said: “It’s crazy. We are going to be at Hartlepool and an hour or so before kick-off, the window will shut.

“Lots of deals get done in the last two days, probably most in fact. It (the window) should finish when the season starts, in my view.

“It’s unfair for clubs to make plans through pre-season worrying about whether players who are in them will still be there.

“Every manager out there, if people are listening to them, will tell you exactly the same thing.

“We are working very hard behind the scenes and I want to keep improving us.”

The Blades, given lengthy back-to-back away trips down south to Fulham and Swindon Town are likely to make a number of changes this evening.

Adkins and his troops will have clocked up around 900 miles in a week when they return home after tonight’s encounter.

The Blades have won on their last three trips to this corner of the north-east and have lost just once in their second previous visits to Hartlepool.

James Wallace (calf) will be assessed while Jose Baxter is missing through suspension.

Competition rules dictate that clubs must select at least six of the players who started in the club’s previous fixture, or six of the eleven players who have made the most appearances so far this season.

Last six games: Hartlepool WWWLLL; Sheffield United WWWWLW.

Referee: S Duncan (Northumberland).

Last time: Hartlepool 1 Sheffield United 2; October 7, 2014; Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.