Blades will be tougher, Kuqi

IT will be tougher tomorrow against Sheffield United.That was the stark warning from man of the match Shefki Kuqi after scoring one and playing a part in the other two Town goals against Preston on Saturday.

By Derek Davis

IT will be tougher tomorrow against Sheffield United.

That was the stark warning from man of the match Shefki Kuqi after scoring one and playing a part in the other two Town goals against Preston on Saturday.

Although Town kept just their third clean sheet of the season Kuqi believes they got away with it a bit against the Lilywhites and will have to be more diligent against Neil Warnock's rising Blades' side.

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Kuqi said: “We know we can play better than we did against Preston and we know we will have to on Tuesday.

“Although we kept a clean sheet which was important, we will have to defend better against Sheffield. They are a different team altogether.”

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Kuqi opened the scoring in the 44th minute to snatch his sixth goal of the season and stay top of the Town goal-scoring chart.

He then helped Tommy Miller grab his fifth of the season a minute into time added on as the Blues took a comfortable lead into half-time.

But the talk in the break was all about reminding each other what had happened at Vicarage Road seven days earlier.

Kuqi said: “We went two-nil up last week and conceded two goals so we spoke about that at half-time and made sure we didn't repeat what happened at Watford.”

Preston complained bitterly that Kuqi had gained an unfair advantage to get past Chris Lucketti for the first goal, something the Kosovan-born striker denied.

He said: “I never used my arm, it came off the top of my chest so I don't know why they are complaining.

“Once I took my second touch and I was into the area there was only one thing on my mind, and that was to score. I knew exactly where I was going to hit it.”

And he denied Preston manager Billy Davies' claims that Kuqi celebrated the fact he had cheated by tapping his wrist after doing his infamous dive.

Kuqi insisted: “A lot of fans have been asking about the dive so I brought it back for them.

“The other celebration was between me and Tommy Miller. We did the same thing after the second goal.

“It was nothing to do with any suggestion of a handball at all, it was a pre-planned celebration.”

Kuqi, who will be 28 next week, once again praised his strike partner Darren Bent and Miller's finishing.

He said: “Darren did well to pull the ball back and Tommy finished superbly.

“Tommy is a great goal-scorer and when he gets a chance in the box he usually finishes.

“Darren took his third goal brilliantly, he strikes the ball so well when he gets a clean connection there is a lot of power in the shot.”

Kuqi will join up with the Finland squad to play Italy later this month but only if he will be starting and not on the bench.

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