Paul Connolly is “rooting” for Sheffield United to avoid relegation – but the defender wants Leeds United to push his former club a step closer to League One on Saturday.
Connolly expressed shock at Sheffield United’s disastrous Championship season with the South Yorkshire side six points from safety and in serious danger of dropping into England’s third tier for the first time since 1990.
The Leeds right-back finished last season on loan at Bramall Lane from Derby County and said he was “gutted” to see Sheffield United lodged in the Championship’s bottom three with nine matches to play.
Saturday’s Yorkshire derby in Sheffield has taken on huge significance with Leeds continuing to chase automatic promotion and Sheffield United running out of time to ensure their survival and Connolly, who is bidding to reclaim a starting place after a seven-game absence through injury, claimed a victory for Leeds was imperative if the club were to prolong their chance of finishing second.
“We definitely need to beat them,” said Connolly.
“I’m absolutely gutted to see them where they are but that’s not my concern on Saturday. In the form we’re in, we have to look for a win down there.
“I went on loan to Sheffield United for a month last season and it was a great time for me, a really good time in my career.
“I still keep in touch with three or four of the lads, and Neill Collins and Nick Montgomery are good mates of mine.
“But this is football. Being a big club doesn’t protect you from relegation but I still think they’ve got hope. And I really hope that, after Saturday, they get the wins they need to stay in the league.
“I’ll be rooting for them to stay up.”
Leeds will meet a depleted Sheffield United squad with striker Darius Henderson banned and midfielder Lee Williamson starting a four-match suspension after failing to overturn a red card shown to him at Watford last weekend.