Plymouth Argyle will make the long journey up north for the second time this week, as Ryan Lowe’s Pilgrims face off against Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
34 places separate the teams, with the Blades propping up the Premier League whilst Plymouth sit 11th in League One.
Argyle will be on the crest of a wave heading into the fourth-round tie, losing just once in their last seven – including a 3-2 win over Huddersfield Town in the previous round.
The Blades, however, are having a season to forget.
United enjoyed a speedy rise to the top tier of English football under Chris Wilder, having played in the third division as recently as 2017.
Whilst last season saw them finish ninth in the Premier League, this season they have seemingly suffered ‘second season syndrome’ - having registered just one win in the league.
Despite this, Lowe refuses to underestimate the South Yorkshire side.
“We respect Sheffield United”
With Lowe having played in the city, for United’s arch-rivals Sheffield Wednesday, and his former Bury boss Alan Knill now the assistant manager at the Blades, the Pilgrims’ boss knows what the red side of Sheffield are capable of – despite their struggles this season.
“We will go about our business the right way and do the right things,” said Lowe.
“They are a Premier League outfit, they are not a League One outfit.
“They have had a bit of a bad time of late, but I have watched the last couple of games and they are definitely there to start winning games of football in the Premier League, like they did last season.”
“We will give a good account of ourselves”
With the Pilgrims facing a higher quality of opposition than they are used to, it would be plausible for Lowe to set his side up more defensively.
This, however, will not be the case on Saturday.
The South Coast side have favoured a more attacking approach under Lowe’s stewardship, and the Green Army have been told to expect more of the same at Bramall Lane.
“Concentration is a massive thing when you are coming up against better players who play in a better league,” explained the Argyle boss.
“The lads have got to be switched on for 95-96 minutes or extra-time, whatever it goes to, because they are coming up against a better class of opposition.
“Our lads understand that, but I want them to go out with a freedom, I want them to play our football like we have been doing.”
“It is disappointing for him, but in terms of the squad we have got enough”
Lowe announced the signing of former-Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Niall Ennis at the start of the week, with the 21-year-old making an appearance off the bench on Tuesday against Sunderland.
Ennis spent the first half of the season on loan at Burton Albion, where he featured in the Brewers’ first-round defeat against Barnet, and thus, the youngster is cup tied for the Pilgrims’ cup fixtures.
“He will have a programme over the weekend and then he will be nice and fresh for Tuesday,” said Lowe, hinting that Ennis may be in his plans against Swindon Town.
Argyle’s latest signing joins wing-back George Cooper and midfielder Lewis Macleod, whose injuries rule them out of Saturday’s clash.
“We have just got to make sure that we keep the lads fit and firing for when they are called upon,” the Pilgrims’ boss concluded.