Sheffield United have been warned that tomorrow’s FA Cup tie against Worcester City could prove their most difficult match of the season so far.
Sam Wedgbury, who represented both clubs earlier in his career, told Nigel Adkins’ side it would be a grave mistake to dismiss the threat posed by Carl Heeley’s side despite their non-league status.
“They will be able to come with nothing to lose and everything to gain,” he said. “It’s a win/win situation, to be honest, when you’re in City’s position ahead of a game like this.
“The Worcester lads are going to be giving absolutely everything to prove they can compete on a level like this. There will be people ready to head boots and putting their bodies on the line. So, despite the respective positions of the two clubs, this could turn out to be the toughest test United have had yet.”
Speaking ahead of the first round tie, Wedgbury added: “City’s experienced players, like Lee Hughes and Deon Burton, are going to want to show they’ve still got it and the younger ones will want to show they are capable of competing on this stage. The reasons are different but the motivation is the same.”
Wedgbury joined United in January 2006 after progressing through City’s youth system before being loaned to sister club Ferencvaros and Mansfield Town.
Now of Forest Green Rovers and still the visitors’ youngest ever goalscorer, he was a member of the Macclesfield squad which knocked Cardiff City out of the competition before succumbing to eventual winners Wigan Athletic two years ago.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, the underdogs in these situations raise their game by about 10 to 15 per cent,” he said. “Possibly even 20. I know because I’ve been there. Back then, at Macclesfield, we showed that against Cardiff and then, even though we lost, we gave Wigan a massive scare.”
Wedgbury still lives in Sheffield and despite failing to make a senior appearance before moving to Moss Rose, has fond memories of his time at Bramall Lane.
“It was amazing for me, it really was. Working alongside people like Gary Speed and Chris Morgan taught me so much. How can you not learn from top professionals like that. Going to Hungary was great too and I got some games there. Looking back, I probably regret coming back to England when I did although an injury hastened it. I was thinking I was missing out being away from England but it was a brilliant experience too, being at a huge club like that.”
“Back then, it was really difficult to break into the first team at United,” he added. “We’d come down from the Premier League but we always challenging at the top of the Championship and people like Speedo, Morgs and Lee Hendrie were there. But I was taught so much and the people there at the time - Ron Reid, Kevin Fogg and Kevin Paxton - were second to none. They were great with me. I’ll be involved, hopefully, in another game when this one is going on but I’ll definitely be keeping a close eye on the score. I still live in the city, it’s my home now, always will be, and these are two clubs which obviously mean a lot to me as well.”
Wedgbury, aged 26, divides his time between South Yorkshire and Nailsworth in Gloucestershire where National League leaders Rovers, now owned by Dale Vince, are based.
“I’m loving it at Rovers,” he said. “It’s such an exciting club to be at and there’s a real sense that we can achieve something this year and then keep on building momentum after that. I’m enjoying my life on and off the pitch so I can’t have any complaints at all.”
“I had a few offers from the league after leaving Stevenage,” Wedgbury added. “But I definitely made the right choice coming here. The club is really well run and the people have got some really interesting, innovative ideas which are working well. It feels really good to be a part of.”