Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder concedes the Premier League “would probably love” to see Leeds United return next season.
But he is adamant his own side have what it takes not only to prevail in tomorrow’s lunchtime derby clash at Elland Road, but also in the race for the top flight.
“We are not intimidated by anyone,” said the 51-year-old, who led United to promotion from League One in 2017. “It is a sign of the maturity of the group. They are not over-hyped for this game, I have sensed that. But they are not horizontal either.
“It (chasing promotion) is a position we have been in before, same with many of the players and the staff. It comes through in the players’ attitude.”
Leeds triumphed 1-0 in the first meeting of the season at Bramall Lane on December 1, Dean Henderson’s mistake late on handing Pablo Hernandez a chance he took gleefully.
But there was little between the two sides, who largely cancelled each other out.
Billy Sharp will return tomorrow after starting the last two games on the bench, a change Wilder would have made even without Gary Madine’s red card in the midweek win over Brentford.
“We felt it was the right time to pull him out,” said Wilder about a striker who has five goals in his last six appearances against Leeds, “so we could plot our way through this little period – which we have successfully done.
“Billy has played for that club, his scoring record is great and we feel he is fit and refreshed to lead us from the front.”
On the task of toppling Leeds, Wilder added: “Historically, they are a huge club and should be in the Premier League, but it doesn’t work that way. The Premier League, without being controversial, would probably love to see them in there.
“You go to Elland Road and there is a picture of them playing at the Nou Camp. That was not that long ago. But then Simon (Grayson) came in, by then they were in the third tier. It has happened to Sheffield Wednesday, it has happened to us.
“But they are a club on the up. Bielsa has sprinkled his magic dust through being an outstanding manager. If you look at his CV it is not too shabby. He has worked at national level and for some of the most powerful clubs in Europe and abroad.”