Huddersfield V Sheff Utd at Wembley Stadium : Match Preview
25 May 2012 06:01
Rhodes focused on task in hand
Huddersfield's Jordan Rhodes appears in no hurry to leave the club and, on the eve of his side's npower League One play-off final against Sheffield United, has more pressing matters on his mind.
The 22-year-old's record-breaking 40-goal season has helped propel Huddersfield to their third straight play-off campaign and second successive final, while alerting a host of Barclays Premier League clubs to his prodigious talent.
Fulham are the latest to reportedly make an offer for a player who has registered five hat-tricks this season, including all four against Sheffield Wednesday - for whom father Andy is goalkeeping coach - and five in a 6-0 rout at Wycombe in January.
When told of Fulham's #3.5million offer, Town manager Simon Grayson quipped: "Which leg is that for?", while Rhodes himself is equally dismissive of a big-money move away from West Yorkshire.
"It's not in my powers or in my thoughts for anything to happen in the future," he said.
"I'm just concentrating on being a Huddersfield Town player and concentrating on the game on Saturday against Sheffield United.
"You guys can make up the stories or whatever they might be, rumours or whatever. They don't tend to affect my mindset.
"I can only affect what happens on the field and I've tried to block everything else out really and treat it all very much the same.
"I just try and do as well as I can in training everyday and give my all. I try to keep learning and better myself, whether that's physical or mental, and I try to make myself a better person as well."
Midfielder Scott Arfield appears set to return to contention, but goalkeeper Ian Bennett is struggling.
Arfield missed the return leg of Huddersfield's semi-final win over MK Dons due to an ankle problem, while Bennett injured his hand in the same match and was replaced by Alex Smithies, who is likely to continue in goal.
Grayson has no other injury or suspension problems and is unlikely to make any unforced changes to the side that started against the Dons.
Skipper Peter Clarke is expected to continue alongside Sean Morrison in central defence, with Tommy Miller and Damien Johnson in central midfield, Danny Ward and Kallum Higginbotham on the wings and 40-goal striker Jordan Rhodes continuing his partnership with Lee Novak up front.
Sheffield United captain Michael Doyle believes the club's poor record in play-off finals will have no bearing on Saturday's showdown.
The Blades have lost all three of their previous play-off finals - all in the Championship - losing 1-0 to Crystal Palace in 1997, 3-0 to Wolves in 2003 and 1-0 to Burnley in 2009, but Irishman Doyle is unmoved by the record books as Danny Wilson's side bid to bounce straight back to the second tier at the first attempt.
"There's a good few in this squad that weren't a part of the previous play-offs," said the 30-year-old.
"There's not many left that went through the heartache of losing to Burnley, so we're pretty positive and focused on what we've got to do. We're ready.
"We've one game to do this and that's what you want at the start of the season. We've got ourselves in this position and that's all we asked for, so it's up to us to go and take it."
Doyle, a free signing from Coventry during the January transfer window in 2011 and installed as skipper this season by boss Wilson, also insists the Blades have shaken off the crushing disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion to city rivals Sheffield Wednesday.
"Going into the semi-final Stevenage were really confident and I don't think too many people gave us a chance of getting through those games, but we picked ourselves up and showed a lot of character with two great performances," said the former Leeds midfielder, who won automatic promotion with the Whites from League One under current Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson in 2010.
United's injured pair Richard Cresswell and Kevin McDonald both hope to be in contention.
Cresswell missed the second leg of the Blades' 1-0 semi-final win over Stevenage due to an eye infection understood to have been caused by his contact lenses.
The striker could make his 100th start for the club if he is passed fit and will be looking to notch his 11th goal of the season, while manager Danny Wilson must decide whether to start with him alongside Chris Porter.
Midfielder McDonald aggravated the hamstring that kept him out for seven matches in February and March and was withdrawn during half-time in the second leg against Stevenage.
The Scot has responded well to treatment and will be given until the last minute, but if he fails to make it Nick Montgomery will return to the starting line-up.