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James Crawley

James Crawley writes

Posted Friday, May 4th 2018

Both clubs have moved forward - Johnson

Lee Johnson says both City and Sheffield United can look back on a season of progression, ahead of their clash this weekend.

They are hoping to end the season on a high in the season finale at home to the Blades on Sunday (May 6th, 12.30pm kick-off).

A City win could see them end the campaign 7th in the Sky Bet Championship - their highest finish for a decade.

Previewing the fixture, Johnson expressed his admiration for the Blades who came close to consecutive promotions after their League One success last season.

Johnson told BCTV: "I think Sheffield United are an excellent side. I love the way they play and their manager is superb.

"They cause problems with their 3-5-2 and it becomes a tactical battle because of the way they fill spaces. It’s a good challenge, as it was at their place. We came out with a win but they have had a fantastic season.

"We were both amongst the favourites for relegation but we’ve both pushed the big boys all the way. Both clubs will be disappointed not to have made the play-offs but when we look from 10,000 feet you see what an excellent year of progression it has been."

WHO WILL GRAB THE GOLDEN BOOT?

Sunday's match will also see PFA Team of the Year stars Bobby Reid and Leon Clarke battle it out for the Golden Boot award. Reid has 19 league goals for the campaign, behind Derby County's Matěj Vydra and Aston Villa's Lewis Grabban. Clarke also keeps the pressure on with 18 league goals.

Johnson added: "I hope Bobby scores more than one goal and goes for it on Sunday.

"If there’s a penalty then be sure he’s going to step up and take them. He just have to get himself in goalscoring areas but Leon Clarke has had a great soon, as has Matěj Vydra. It will be great for Bobby to end top scorer but he’s going to need two or three goals."

'GO OUT ON A HIGH'

While the play-offs are no longer possible, City have guaranteed a top-half finish and head into the summer on a positive note.

Johnson added: "Both City and Sheffield United hoped this would be the decider as we looked to get into the play-offs but it wasn’t to be. We have fallen a little short so the next best thing to do is go out on a high.

"It’s an opportunity now to blood one or two players, those who have done well in training and with the under-23s so, if the game permits it, we’ll be able to give them a bit of game time."

The head coach also praised the youngsters within his wider squad.

Right-back Zak Vyner, for example, won Plymouth Argyle's Young Player of the Year award while on loan at the Pilgrims, while Shaun McCoulsky found his scoring boots with Newport County and Jonny Smith helped fire AFC Fylde into the National League play-offs.

Johnson continued: "They are just a number of successes which we have had. Brian Tinnion (loans manager) has been excellent and I’ve enjoyed working with him. Brian’s enjoyed it and he’s very passionate about the young players, like we all are.

"Brian has maintained relationships, we’ve seen them develop where there was a bit of a black hole in recent years so I think it’s something we have done well. We hope the likes of Zak and Smith can do well and help the first team."

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