Burton Albion vs Sheffield United Preview: Blades looking to go top of the Championship at the Pirelli Stadium

Relegation battlers Burton Albion take on Sheffield United in this Friday's evening kick-off.

Burton Albion vs Sheffield United Preview: Blades looking to go top of the Championship at the Pirelli Stadium
Billy Sharp is one of many Blades players that have impressed this season. (Photo: Nigel Roddis / Getty Images)

Burton Albion host Sheffield United in one of this Friday's evening kick-offs in the Championship, with the two sides occupying spots at opposing ends of the table.

The Brewers sit 21st and will stay there even if they win due to their inferior goal difference, while the Blades could return to the top of the table with a win as league leaders Wolves travel to Reading on Saturday.

Brewers need to improve at the back to avoid going down

It doesn't take a genius to figure out where Burton Albion need to improve if they are to avoid the dreaded drop to League One.

The Brewers have conceded 31 goals in just 16 league games - the joint-worst record in the league alongside rock bottom Sunderland, although the Black Cats are significantly better in front of goal then Nigel Clough's side.

A total of 10 goals in the Championship so far this season shows they haven't shown too much promise in front of goal, with only Lloyd Dyer and Marvin Sordell on more than one goal, each with two to their names.

Clough's men can take confidence from their last outing however as they ended a seven game winless run to defeat Millwall 1-0 at The Den, with Sordell scoring the only goal against the ten-man Lions.

Clough - a former Sheffield United manager - told BBC Sport following their win over Millwall that his side "can't feel sorry for ourselves" regarding their league position, adding that the win was "most welcome".

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Blades continue their promotion charge

Few would have expected Sheffield United to be one of the main title contenders almost halfway into the Championship season following their League One title win last season, but Chris Wilder's side have thrived under low expectations this season.

The Blades come into the game on the back of four wins from their last five games, the one loss coming away to QPR on Halloween as Idrissa Sylla netted the only goal of the game.

They were much better last time out however, winning 4-1 against struggling Hull City with striker Leon Clarke scoring all four goals as he doubled his goal tally for the season.

Captain Billy Sharp has been a man in-form this season, netting six goals in 12 league appearances although only one of those goals came away from Bramall Lane.

Wilder told the Sheffield Star that he wants to avoid getting "carried away" ahead of Friday's game due to the two sides' league positions, adding that his side "have to approach it in the right way to stand a chance of achieving a result."

Team news

The hosts are without full-back John Brayford for Friday's game, meaning Kyle McFadzean is likely to continue in his place as Clough could name an unchanged side from the Millwall win.

Goalkeeper Jamal Blackman is available for the Blades once again after missing their win over Hull with a back injury.

Predicted line-ups

Burton Albion (4-3-3): Bywater; Flanagan, Turner, Buxton, McFadzean; Palmer, Murphy, Lund; Dyer, Sordell, Scannell.

Sheffield United (3-5-2): Blackman; Carter-Vickers, Wright, O'Connell; Basham, Coutts, Duffy, Fleck, Stevens; Clarke, Sharp.