Sheffield United favourites to win the league - Smith

Boro boss looks ahead to Saturday’s clash with second-placed Blades

Stevenage manager Gary Smith believes Saturday’s opponents Sheffield United will win the league this season – but insists his team are eager to bounce back at Bramall Lane after last weekend’s 4-1 defeat to Preston North End.

This will be the first time Smith and his players have been back to the stadium where last season’s play-off hopes were brought to a cruel end thanks to Chris Porter’s late strike. And even though the Blades lost at Wembley against eventual winners Huddersfield in May, Smith has tipped Danny Wilson’s side to go all the way and win the title this time around.

United lost their unbeaten start to the season last weekend, though, when a last-minute penalty at MK Dons gave Karl Robinson’s side all three points. Boro currently boast the second best away record in the division with six wins, a draw and a defeat from their eight outings.

“The matches against Sheffield United were probably the most exciting games last year after I came into the club,” said Smith. “The play-off games were terrific but they had a completely different slant on them. Our home game was much more cagey, nil-nil, and of course the defeat in the second leg left a very deflated feel for the off-season.

“We know what their ground is like, we know what the team is like, and I honestly think any team that finishes second to Sheffield United will go up automatically and that’s the sort of esteem I hold them in.

“They’ve had a lot of changes themselves and I know that some of their top players have had to move on for one reason or another. But in the players they’ve brought in they have a lot of quality. They are a strong, professional side and they know what it takes to get results.

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“We know our away form has been great all season and we want to keep that going and add more points to the board.”

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