FOR the second weekend running, Sheffield United midfielder Lee Evans is preparing for a fixture with extra symbolism.
After facing former club Wolves last weekend, the Welshman is now preparing to line up against the team he supported as a boy in Leeds United on Saturday lunch-time.
Evans’s father Dean is a Whites fan, back from the days of Don Revie, and he used to be taken with him to Elland Road a couple of times a season from their Newport home.
But Evans’s sole concern is on business and not sentiment on Saturday.
On his childhood affinities with Leeds, he said: “Yes, I was (a Leeds fan), but keep it quiet. Leeds, the first time I went there, was obviously a special game for my family. Closer to the time, I will have to get some tickets sorted for them.”
The eighth-placed Blades may head into the game on the back of successive defeats to Aston Villa and Wolves, but still have plenty to strive for in the final third of the season.
As it stands, there is a five-point gap to breach between the Blades and sixth-placed Bristol City, but it is far from insurmountable.
While the likes of Villa and fellow promotion chasers Derby have squads blessed with top-flight experience, the Blades’ play-off drive has been built around the hunger and collective spirit of a group of players who are prospering after handling personal knockbacks early in their career, including Evans.
His own early blow arrived when he was freed as a teenager at Bristol Rovers and he has used it as motivational fuel ever seen.
He said: “It does give you that drive. For me personally, my biggest factor was getting released at 15 or 16 by Bristol Rovers. If that did not happen, I wouldn’t be where I am today. That was a massive kick in the teeth. I got told by various people that I would never play at a decent level. I know I have not played hundreds and hundreds of games, but I am hoping to play a lot of games here.
“You are always going to get setbacks in your career, it is how you cope with them.
“The number of people who have done it at this football club is unbelievable. The manager was going through it the other week with the boys and it is about 80 per cent.
“That is just down to people’s mindsets. People that do not want to take no for an answer and want to push as hard as they can.”