Chance to buck Cup trend gives Doyle extra incentive

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COMMON consensus seems to suggest that a good Cup run can harm a club’s chances in the league. Just do not tell that to Sheffield United’s Michael Doyle.

The 30-year-old was part of the Leeds United side that won not only promotion from League One in 2009-10 but also knocked Manchester United out of the FA Cup and then took Tottenham Hotspur to a fourth-round replay.

Ahead of the Blades hosting League Two Torquay United today, Doyle said: “The FA Cup is still a magic competition that generates excitement all around the country – whether you are Premier League or non-League, your fans look forward to a really good day out.

“The players here at Sheffield United have different views going into this game.

“We are obviously taking nothing for granted against Torquay but some of the lads are relishing the chance of taking on one of the Premier League big guns in the third round if we make it there.

“Personally, if we do beat Torquay, I would rather we drew another lower league team at home to give us a good chance of progressing even further.

“The league is our priority, of course, but I don’t see any reason why promotion and a good Cup run cannot go hand in hand for us this season.”

Today is likely to be an emotional occasion for everyone at Bramall Lane as a heartfelt tribute is paid to former manager Gary Speed following his death last Sunday.

Flags bearing images of Speed are to be placed in front of the stadium, and will remain there for the rest of the season.

Former Blades captain Robert Page, who played alongside Speed for Wales, will lay a wreath on the pitch in honour of his fellow countryman before kick-off.

The game will see James Beattie make his second debut for the Blades following his return last month. Beattie once cost United a club record £4m and he notched 34 goals in 65 outings.

Manager Danny Wilson said: “James is feeling fine, and we are certainly looking at him with a view to the Cup tie. We have got to throw him in at some stage and, what with being allowed two extra subs for FA Cup games, this is probably as good a chance as any.

“In terms of fitness, he is getting there although we need to arrange some behind-closed-doors friendlies to really get him up to full match sharpness.

“We shall take a look at him in the morning and check that he is feeling up to it. You could say we are fast-tracking him, but he is experienced enough and smart enough to know whether he is up to what is needed of him.

“But he is a fit boy with a professional attitude, and I know how badly he wants to get back out there on the pitch.”