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We’ll prepare properly: Wilder hopes Christmas training pays off for Derby match

It will be fifth against sixth at Bramall Lane on Boxing Day.

Sheffield United produced a good result after working Christmas Day last year (PA)
Sheffield United produced a good result after working Christmas Day last year (PA)

Sheffield United will be training on Christmas Day to ensure they are properly prepared for the visit of Championship promotion rivals Derby.

Blades boss Chris Wilder sees it as just like any other week and had his players in on December 25th last year ahead of their Boxing Day fixture against Sunderland, with the move bringing a 3-0 victory.

Wilder is hoping for a similar result this time round with his side’s promotion challenge having stalled slightly following just two wins in eight matches.

“Preparation for the players will be just a normal Championship week. The way the days have fallen this year, Saturday, Wednesday and then Saturday, it’s like it usually is so that shouldn’t cause too many complications,” Wilder told reporters at his pre-match press conference.

“It’s just a normal Championship week. We will prepare properly, we did last year, we came in on Christmas Day and worked. We had a fantastic result against Sunderland, so will be looking to do the same.

“We’ll try to make it fun and enjoyable, as we always do, but it’s still going to be work.”

Derby travel to south Yorkshire looking to extend a four-game unbeaten run, but wanting to return to winning ways after a couple of frustrating draws.

“At the minute, we are fifth in the table. I am pleased with that but not overly so because I want more,” said Rams boss Frank Lampard.

Championship leaders Leeds are aiming for a seventh successive win when they host Blackburn while second-placed Norwich will look to remain hot on their heels by extending their 11-game unbeaten league run against Nottingham Forest, who are just outside the play-off places.

Birmingham and Stoke are two other clubs withing striking distance of the top-six and they meet at St Andrew’s, where Blues have lost only once this season.

Stoke, managed by former Birmingham boss Gary Rowett, are unbeaten in 10 league matches.

The big game towards the bottom of the Championship is at The Den where Millwall, currently occupying the final relegation spot, host Reading, with just goal difference separating the two sides.

Bolton could climb out of the bottom three and drag Rotherham right back in trouble if they can halt a dismal 13-match winless streak with victory against the Millers at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Elsewhere, third-placed West Brom, who have won five times during a seven-match unbeaten run, host Wigan while fourth-placed Middlesbrough, who won for the first time in five games on Saturday, host Sheffield Wednesday.

Aston Villa’s seven-game unbeaten run was ended by Leeds at the weekend and Dean Smith’s side will look to get back on track away at Swansea.

QPR are looking for a third straight Championship victory when they host bottom of the table Ipswich at Loftus Road while Bristol City, unbeaten in five league outings, host a Brentford team who have yet to win away this season.

Preston are without a defeat at Deepdale in six games and they will hope to extend that record when they host an improved Hull side that has lost just one of its last nine matches.

PA

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