Sheffield United: Howard sets high standards

Sheffield United goalkeeper Mark Howard is set to face York City this afternoon � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United goalkeeper Mark Howard is set to face York City this afternoon � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

Mark Howard has warned Sheffield United’s defence is still far from the finished article as the countdown to the new season continues, writes James Shield.

Nigel Clough’s side, which kept 17 clean sheets in League One competition last term, complete their preparations for next weekend’s opener against Bristol City with a friendly at York City this afternoon (kick-off 1pm).

Howard excelled during Thursday’s victory over Fenerbahce, making a series of fine saves to deny the likes of Pierre Webo and Diego Ribas before second-half efforts from Chris Porter and Neill Collins cancelled-out the Cameroonian’s opener.

But, expressing concerns about the number of crosses Fenerbahce were able to deliver into his penalty area, the United goalkeeper said: “That’s an area we’ve got to work on although, in fairness, there were mitigating circumstances. I don’t think we’re going to be coming-up against players like that every single week and we’ve got a lot of new lads here who are still settling-in but you’ve still got to strive to be the best you can.”

United bolstered their defensive options by signing Craig Alcock, Andy Butler, Harrison McGahey and Ben Davies earlier this summer and Howard added: “I’ve got as big a role to play as anyone in making sure we’re solid because it’s my job to organise and shout.

“I enjoy doing that and, with the quality that’s come in, we can repeat what we did last year without a doubt.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1