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When Sheffield United succumbed to a 1-0 defeat at Watford in their opening game, Paul Heckingbottom would not have necessarily been too downhearted knowing that one of their toughest games of the calendar was already out of the way.

That said, the Blades needed to respond in their following fixtures, something which was achieved with four points coming from games against Millwall and Middlesbrough.

There will be a sense of frustration having twice let slip a lead in the latter of those matches, but Heckingbottom will be content with occupying ninth spot at this stage.

Sheffield United now face a home double-header with a vulnerable Sunderland side and leaders Blackburn Rovers, the opportunity being there to make quick headway up the table.

While goals currently appear to be an issue, Heckingbottom will feel that his frontline will start firing once they have more minutes under their belt.

As far as Sunderland are concerned, they remarkably find themselves in a position where they will be disappointed with only collecting five points from their first three games back in the division.

The Black Cats have twice given up leads at the Stadium of Light, Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Queens Park Rangers being particularly frustrating having seemingly been on the way to maximum points and a clean sheet with five minutes left.

Instead, Alex Neil witnessed his team concede twice, the second of those goals coming from the head of QPR goalkeeper Seny Dieng who had made his way up for a corner.

Although the Scot will try to find the positives, he knows that his players, particularly in defensive areas, need to show more character if they are to be considered contenders for the playoffs this season.

Rhian Brewster and Oliver McBurnie are both pushing to replace Billy Sharp in the Sheffield United attack.

Given the extent of the Blades’ injury list, changes are expected to be few and far between, although Reda Khadra and James McAtee are both pushing for opportunities.

Dan Ballard will miss out for Sunderland after suffering an ankle injury during the early stages of the QPR game.

Luke O’Nien is expected to deputise in the back three, but Ajibola Alese is also an option after his move from West Ham United.

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Barring any more injury issues, the remainder of the team is expected to stay the same.

Sheffield United possible starting lineup:
Foderingham; Ahmedhodzic, Egan, Norrington-Davies; Baldock, Norwood, Doyle, Lowe; Berge, Ndiaye; Brewster

Sunderland possible starting lineup:
Patterson; O’Nien, Batth, Cirkin; Gooch, Neil, Evans, Clarke; Pritchard; Stewart, Simms

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