Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has put football rivalry aside to speak of his respect and admiration for Leicester striker Jamie Vardy.
It is no secret that Wilder supports the Blades – a club he played for and now has the privilege to manage.
Equally, it is common knowledge that Vardy has never lost his love for Sheffield Wednesday despite being released by the Owls at the age of 16.
On Saturday, Vardy will be looking to score his first goal of the season when he returns to his hometown as Leicester take on Sheffield United at Bramall Lane.
Wilder will be hoping his team can keep the diminutive striker quiet, but ahead of the match he was full of appreciation for Vardy’s career and his “inspirational” rise from non-league to the Premier League.
“I have got pals who are Sheffield Wednesday supporters,” said Wilder. “He (Vardy) obviously is one. I have got nothing but respect for his career and what he has done.
“It is a great inspiration for a lot of non-league players. My career in coaching and management started out in non-league and I have a lot of affiliation and love for the grassroots game. He is the star performer in terms of where he started and where he has finished.
“There is a lot of respect from me towards Jamie and how well he has done. And still, looking at the clips against Chelsea last weekend and the desire in his face, he still has that desire and hunger that has taken him to the very top.”
The Blades have conceded just one goal in their first two Premier League games and Wilder will be hoping his team can keep it tight again against Vardy and Leicester.
“He will score goals again this season – I just hope he waits one more game before he gets off the mark. And we will have to be at our best to stop him and Leicester as a team,” said Wilder.
“The elite players are the ones who hurt you at the top of the pitch. Whether it is (Josh) King, (Ryan) Fraser and (Callum) Wilson at Bournemouth, or (Wilfried) Zaha, (Andros) Townsend and (Christian) Benteke last Sunday for Crystal Palace.
“Now, we go on to (James) Maddison, (Ayoze) Perez and a certain lad on Saturday who wants to do well and supports the other firm from down the road.”
Callum Robinson has recovered from injury and is expected to be involved against Leicester. The forward had to come off during the win against Crystal Palace but he has trained all week and will hope to keep his place in the team.
John Fleck also hobbled off with an injury last weekend and a late decision will be made on the midfielder’s fitness.
- Press Association