Sheffield United’s Chris Basham was once a young prospect in the Newcastle academy, but is aiming to put this aside when he steps on the pitch at Bramall Lane tonight.
The Blades, sitting pretty in 9th place after 14 games, will be seeking three points after one win in five when they take on the Magpies at 7.30pm.
Basham, a childhood Sunderland fan, said: “When you’re younger you have to mature quickly as a footballer and you’ve got to take the downs with the ups, and obviously, being here now, it’s definitely on the up.
“My sole focus is on Sheffield United and winning the game against a very tough team.
“It’s obviously one that’s close to me and my family and my mates back home, but it’s just another game, and another game that we can win hopefully.”
Chris Wilder is already turning heads with his progressive tactics and ability to maximise his squad.
The Sheffield-born manager has carried on his side’s Championship form, retaining a high-energy press whilst boasting the second best defence in the league.
The concept of over-lapping centre-backs may have been over-analysed by almost every pundit. Once again though, the marauding runs of Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell may play the most pivotal role in deciding the outcome of tonight’s fixture.
In terms of Newcastle, wing-backs DeAndre Yedlin and Jetro Willems are effective in the final third, but struggle defensively. One could also presume they would be left isolated by 2-on-1 situations. New signing Allan Saint-Maximin has turned heads since his arrival with his dazzling footwork and turn of pace. When it comes to tracking back helping out his defence however, the Frenchman is susceptible.
The Magpies were expected to struggle this year. Rafa Benitez’s exit compiled with risky high-figure transfers left many thinking manager Steve Bruce would struggle to avoid the drop.
Although Newcastle sit only two points above the relegation zone, wins against the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United give hope to a fan-base used to a relegation battle.
“Overall, after four months, the big thing is finding that consistency,” Steve Bruce told the press on Wednesday afternoon.
“That’s always difficult in the Premier League because there’s that many good teams that you play against.”
The Blades are favourites to take three points. Newcastle boast only one win on the road, and a victory would propel Chris Wilder’s side up the table into sixth, above Premier League giants such as Arsenal, Tottenham. and Manchester United.