NIGEL CLOUGH’s prayers were finally answered after Sheffield United were handed a Capital One Cup home quarter-final tie – against Premier League high-fliers Southampton.
Clough, who has led the Blades to the last eight of a major cup competition for two successive seasons, admitted he was not concerned who his side were pitted against ahead of the draw, as long as it was at Bramall Lane.
The 48-year-old, a winner of the League Cup twice in his playing days at Nottingham Forest in 1989 and 1990 and a losing finalist in 1992, had seen the Blades land three successive away ties ahead of Wednesday night’s draw.
The Blades have reached the quarter-finals of the League Cup on four previous occasions in their history – in 2002-03, 1971-72, 1966-67 and 1961-62.
After taking the Blades to an all-Yorkshire FA Cup semi-final with Hull City in April, Clough says the club are enjoying their place in the sun for the second season running and is hoping the adventure continues.
Speaking prior to the draw, Clough said: “The cup run gives belief and everything that goes with it. It would be lovely to get a home draw.”
While a Bramall Lane tie will be warmly welcomed by Clough and his players, it will be a far from comfortable night against a Saints team rejuvenated since manager Ronald Koeman’s arrival at the St Mary’s Stadium in the summer, the Dutchman guiding them to second place in the Premier League table.
The south coast club reached the last eight with a 3-2 win at Stoke City on Wednesday night.
The Blades avoided Premier League leaders Chelsea, who were drawn away at the Championship’s top club, Derby County.
Bournemouth will host Liverpool, while the only all-Premier League tie sends Newcastle United to Tottenham Hotspur, who beat visitors Brighton 2-0 at home on Wednesday night.
Newcastle made it through thanks to their stunning 2-0 victory over holders Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
Rolando Aarons and substitute Moussa Sissoko struck the goals, with City’s woes compounded ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby when key playmaker David Silva limped off injured early on.
But after a dismal start to the season, Newcastle and Alan Pardew are enjoying a mini-revival with three successive wins in all competitions.
Capital One Cup Quarter-final draw: Derby County v Chelsea, Tottenham v Newcastle, Bournemouth v Liverpool, Sheffield United v Southampton. Matches to be played in the week commencing December 15.