Royle: Pressure is on Blades

ALL the pressure will be on Sheffield United tomorrow night as they go for win or bust against play-off rivals Ipswich Town.Anything less than a win would virtually rule out the Blades' top-six hopes with a trip to Preston for them on the final day.

ALL the pressure will be on Sheffield United tomorrow night as they go for win or bust against play-off rivals Ipswich Town, writes Derek Davis.

Anything less than a win would virtually rule out the Blades' top-six hopes with a trip to Preston for them on the final day.

While victory for Town at Bramall Lane would go a long way to guaranteeing a play-off place they would settle for a draw.

If they did succeed at finishing all square then it would be only their ninth draw of the season.


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It is unlikely the Blues will go to Yorkshire playing for a stalemate but manager Joe Royle admits he would settle for a point even though they have Cardiff City at home nine days later.

He said: "The game grew in importance last weekend when we lost and they won and so we came closer together again.

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"This is a game they have got to win and one we dare not lose. A draw is not a killer for us but we don't seem to do draws.

"Certainly a defeat will be a killer for Sheffield United so it is a must-win game for them."

Blades boss Neil Warnock told the Sheffield press yesterday that it was their cup final and urged their fans to get behind the team for one last push.

He also warned they had to play better than they have done in recent weeks, in which they have won just one of their past four league games.

Warnock said: "We know Ipswich have technically better players than us with a lot of quality. We have to try and eliminate their strengths and work hard. If we play as we did against Nottingham Forest and Stoke recently then Ipswich will batter us."

A crowd of more than 22,000 would take their season gate to above 500,000, although they have not matched last year's achievements when they lost in the play-off finals and reached the semi-finals of both the FA Cup and Worthington Cup.

Since then they have sold Shaun Murphy and Michael Brown while Paul Peschisolido has joined Derby County.

Royle said: "I always felt they would be up there. They have probably missed Murphy and Brown and so don't quite have the rhythm of last year.

"It was always going to be hard for them to emulate last year as they had such a great year in the league and the cup.

"Neil will be winding them up and it will be nigh on a full house."

Town will take a squad of 18 to Sheffield later today after a morning's training.

Tommy Miller is back in the squad after missing the defeat at home to Forest with a tight hamstring while Chris Bart-Williams is also included.

Getting Scotland international-in-waiting Miller back will be a huge boon for the Blues.

Royle said: "We missed his thrust going forward.

"He s a great finisher and we miss that threat from midfield; certainly we don't have another midfielder with that threat."

Town squad: Davis, Price, Richards, Wilnis, Diallo, Santos, McGreal, Elliott, Naylor, Bart-Williams, Wright, Magilton, Miller, Westlake, Reuser, Bent, Bowditch, Kuqi.

* Town reserves travel to Southampton on Tuesday and hope to have Pablo Counago back when they go to Nottingham Forest on Thursday for their rearranged game.

* Blues boss Joe Royle will present awards to the Player of the Year and Team of the Year in the Blades' Super League tonight at the Town team hotel.

The Ipswich Town Supporters Club' awards night will be held on Sunday at the Legends Bar, Portman Road.

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