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Nigel Clough says his Sheffield United side need a solid start in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Hull if they are going to have any chance of claiming a third Premier League scalp in the competition.
The Blades have beaten Aston Villa and Fulham on the road to Wembley are now just one game away from being the first club from outside English football’s top two divisions to reach the final.
“I played in a few Cup semi-finals but only won the one. We kept drawing Liverpool, who were at the height of their powers at the time,” said former Nottingham Forest striker Clough.
“Semi-finals are often quite similar. The first goal is huge. Especially this one, when we are playing a team from two divisions above. For us, we have to keep it tight early on. How we start the game and then settle into it will be key, just as it was against Villa and Fulham.”
Not since 1992-93, when United went head-to-head with Steel City rivals Sheffield Wednesday under the Twin Towers, has Yorkshire boasted two semi-finalists.
As a Premier League outfit Hull are the overwhelming favourites to win, and their chances of appearing in a first-ever FA Cup final have been boosted by the news that influential midfielder Tm Huddlestone will be fit to roam Wembley’s wide open spaces.
Huddlestone missed last weekend’s win over Swansea with a back problem but manager Steve Bruce says he was left out of the 1-0 win as a precautionary measure and will be available for the trip to north London.