Sheffield United v Birmingham City '“ Chris Wilder under no illusions over threat posed by struggling Blues

AS a manager who has previously had to deal with the fallout from clubs hitting serious financial trouble, Chris Wilder has plenty of sympathy for Garry Monk over Birmingham City's troubles.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder manager. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage.

The Sheffield United chief won’t, however, be fooled into believing either the current problems at St Andrews – the Blues could be hit with a swingeing 12-point deduction over breaching Football League rules – or their lowly league position means tonight’s clash will be anything but straight-forward for his side.

“I am happy to talk about it because I have been in this position,” said Wilder, who was in charge of Halifax Town when the club folded in 2008 and then steered Northampton Town through administration seven years later.

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“Garry doesn’t use it as an excuse and he always maintains they have got to get their heads down and get on with it.

“Listen, the players still get paid. Hotel rooms on a Friday night and Tuesday evening still get paid. There is still food being paid for at the training ground.

“I think too much is made of it, to be honest. There is no points deduction.”

Birmingham, having been referred to the League’s disciplinary committee, are waiting to discover their punishment – which can range from a fine to a points deduction – for allegedly breaching the ‘Profitability and Sustainability’ regulations.

It is understood the governing body took a dim view of the Blues signing Kristian Pedersen during the summer, at a time when the club was operating under a ‘soft’ transfer embargo.

THREAT: Birmingham City manager Garry Monk. Picture: Nigel French/PA

Wilder added: “They have brought players in, haven’t they? Even one when they shouldn’t have done.

“The situation, in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t really alter. I look at it and go, ‘Sympathy for Garry not to sign players?’ Well, yes, because that is what managers do.

“In general, though, I don’t have a lot for clubs who put themselves in that position.”

Wilder took the chance to watch fourth-bottom Birmingham last Friday night in a 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion. “These are good players,” was his verdict.

More pressing for the Blades chief, though, is the need to get back to winning ways after the disappointment of Saturday’s defeat at Bristol City.

John Fleck is expected to be available as Wilder weighs up how best to make use of his own resources in not only tonight’s Bramall Lane clash but also the weekend meeting with Preston North End.

Alex Neil’s side played last night at Leeds United, meaning the Lancastrians have an extra 24 hours to recover before once again returning to Yorkshire.

“We will make changes either for this one or for the weekend,” added the 50-year-old. “We will have to.

“That is why we did the business we did during the summer, to try and prepare and get more prepared for situations and challenges like this. But we will have to make changes.”

Fleck’s likely return from the groin problem that saw the midfielder miss the defeat at Ashton Gate is a big boost for Wilder. So, too, is the continued progress of Paul Coutts as he nears a return from the broken leg that ended his season so cruelly last November.

“John Fleck will got through a clearance session,” added Wilder. “Then we will see how he is. Hopefully, he will be okay and ready. If not, he should be for the weekend.

“Paul Coutts did 90 minutes for the Under-23s and that is good. He is doing well and he will be ready when he is ready.”

Last six games: Sheffield United WDWWWL, Birmingham City LDLDDD.

Referee: G Ward (Surrey).

Last time: Sheffield United 1 Birmingham City 1; November 25, 2017; Championship.