Sheffield United vs Burton Albion Preview: A 'must-win' game for the Blades as they look to push for the play-offs

Sheffield United will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Championship as they take on Burton Albion at Bramall Lane on Tuesday evening.

Sheffield United vs Burton Albion Preview: A 'must-win' game for the Blades as they look to push for the play-offs
Sheffield United vs Burton Albion Preview: A 'must-win' game for the Blades as they look to push for the play-offs. (picture: Getty Images / Gareth Copley)

Sheffield United will be looking to get back to winning ways in the Championship as they take on Burton Albion at Bramall Lane on Tuesday evening. 

The Blades were left frustrated at the weekend as they were held to a goalless draw by fellow play-off hopefuls Ipswich Town at Portman Road despite the fact they dominated the majority of the second-half.

As for Burton, they were also held to a goalless draw at the Pirelli Stadium by Bristol City as they continue to look to avoid the drop into League One.  

How they've fared so far

After what was an incredible start to the season under the management of Chris Wilder, the Blades' form has tailed off so far this year but they do still have hopes of achieving a place in the play-offs come the end of the season. 

The Blades were in automatic promotion contention heading into the Christmas period but their recent dip in form has left them five points off the play-off places, albeit with a game in hand. This dip in form coincided with the loss of influential midfielder Paul Coutts to injury. The 29-year-old was a huge player for the Blades in the first-half of the season.

Wilder has described his side's upcoming fixtures against Burton and Nottingham Forest on Saturday as potentially defining fixtures in regards to their chances of finishing in the play-offs. If they were to achieve six points before the international break, it would be a huge boost and give everyone connected with the club the belief that they can secure a top-six finish. 

As for Burton, it has been another season of struggle at the bottom of the Championship. However, considering the resources available at the club, Nigel Clough has done a remarkable job to build a side that is capable of competing at this level. 

They currently find themselves sat second-bottom of the Championship but just two points from safety. They have also enjoyed success on their travels to South Yorkshire this season, with wins against Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley being their only two wins in 2018 so far. 

Ahead of a return to his former club, Clough believes that all the pressure is on the Blades as they look to edge closer to the play-offs which should give his side a chance. He believes his side have got to retain the belief that they can avoid relegation as we head into the final few weeks of the season. 

Last time they met 

The Blades last played Burton in the Championship in a 3-1 win at the Pirelli Stadium in November. A first-half brace from Billy Sharp as well as a late strike from Leon Clarke was enough for Wilder's side to move back to the top of the division. However, the win was marred by what has turned out to be a long-term injury for midfielder Coutts. 

The reverse fixture was marred by an injury to Blades midfielder Paul Coutts. (picture: Getty Images / Malcolm Cousins)
The reverse fixture was marred by an injury to Blades midfielder Paul Coutts. (picture: Getty Images / Malcolm Cousins)

Team news 

Wilder has stated that he hopes Clarke will be fit after the 33-year-old striker has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. He also revealed that midfielder Mark Duffy is available which is a huge boost as he is the Blades' main source of creativity. 

As for Burton, Clough will be unavailable to select Lucas Akins, Hope Akpan, Liam Boyce, John Brayford and Ben Turner as they have all been recently sidelined with injury.

Jacob Davenport has also recently been struggling with illness and is subsequently a doubt for this match.