THE BIG MATCH
Danny Wilson parted company with Sheffield United this week and the Blades' first task without him is a home match against fellow promotion hopefuls Swindon Town.
Wilson left the club sitting fifth in the League 1 table, six points adrift of automatic promotion, with just five games remaining. They were defeated 2-0 at home to Crawley Town on Tuesday, though, which was Wilson's last match, and have managed to score only four goals in their last eight outings.
Chris Morgan has been placed in charge of first-team affairs until the end of the current season, and he will be assisted by David Unsworth, who believes the Blades remain determined to achieve promotion to the npower Championship.
"It is never nice to see anyone lose their jobs, especially with two men like Danny [Wilson] and Frank [Barlow] who have both been fantastic with me since I returned to the club last December," Unsworth told www.sufc.co.uk.
"The people they are was demonstrated when they wished everyone well upon leaving the training ground, telling the staff and the players to go out and finish the job they started last August and get Sheffield United back into the Championship.
"The lads, to a man, will be disappointed and slightly shocked to see the manager leave, but they trained at full throttle [on Thursday] and that type of response showed all the staff how determined and desperate they remain for promotion."
Swindon have also had a managerial change this term and Kevin MacDonald, the man who replaced Paolo Di Canio at the County Ground, has experienced an inconsistent start.
Since McDonald took the reins at the start of March, the Robins have won just twice, and that has left them lying sixth in the table, two points behind Sheffield United.
At his pre-match press conference, MacDonald told www.swindontownfc.co.uk: "Every game is going to be a big one between now and the end of the season but it's a big game for both teams.
"If the games go the way they're going it could be down to eight or 12 teams after this weekend; once again everybody is beating everybody. Who would have thought that Doncaster and Sheffield United would lose at home?
"We need that little change in luck but we also need that full 90-minute performance that we've not had for a couple of weeks. A victory would be a great boost but we're not counting our chickens because we know that Sheffield United are a very good side."
KEEP AN EYE ON
Rock-bottom Bury could be relegated back to npower League 2 this weekend, just two years after they were promoted, if they lose against near-neighbours Oldham Athletic.
The Shakers have struggled at the foot of the League 1 table all season and are now seven points adrift of Oldham, and the safety positions, with just three games remaining after this weekend's clash at Gigg Lane.
That means a win for Oldham would give them a 10-point advantage over Bury, which they would not be able to achieve in their three remaining games.
Three points is a must for Kevin Blackwell's men but they haven't picked up a win since mid-March and have lost their last two on the bounce.
To make it even more challenging, Blackwell may need to rely on youth, with a number of his first-team players either injured or suspended.
The 54-year-old explained to the Bury Times: "I will not risk kids and look back and say, 'well, it was convenient when I put him in but he's never played the game again'.
"The kids have got to be ready physically and mentally. If they are, then you've got someone."
Like Bury, Oldham also haven't won in four, and the Shakers may take some confidence from that.
The Latics lost 2-0 to Preston North End on Tuesday, which came just days after a 2-1 defeat to Carlisle United, and those results have left them level on points with Scunthorpe United - the highest-placed team in the relegation zone.
Oldham manager Lee Johnson is aware of the significance of the fixture against Bury, particularly as it's a local derby, but he is mindful that the game won't end his side's season.
The 31-year-old told www.oldhamathletic.co.uk: "It is a massive match and local derby but at the moment we are not at the stage of the season when it is the be-all and end-all.
"This match will not seal our fate either way, but there is no getting away from the fact it is a big game.
"We know it is winnable if we are at our best, but Bury will be thinking they still have half a chance of getting out of trouble.
"Bury will be up for it, and it certainly won't be an easy game as they are fighting for their lives."
ELSEWHERE IN THE DIVISION
Hartlepool United will also hope to keep their slim survival hopes alive at the foot of the League 1 table when they visit Tranmere Rovers, who will be desperate to return to the Play-Off places.
The Pools will be relegated if they lose and Oldham win, so three points is a must for John Hughes' men.
Tranmere, meanwhile, are seventh, two points adrift of the Play-offs having played a game more than the sides in the top six. Ronnie Moore's men led the table for much of the season, but they have faltered of late, losing six of their last eight, including their three most recent games.
Going into the weekend, the Play-Off places are occupied by Swindon and Sheffield United, who meet at Bramall Lane, as well as Yeovil Town and Brentford.
Gary Johnson's fourth-placed Glovers are on the road to Stevenage, who remain unbeaten since Graham Westley's return to the Lamex Stadium, while Brentford, in third, host relegation-threatened, but in-form, Portsmouth.
Uwe Rosler's men overcame Crewe Alexandra 2-0 in midweek to close the gap between themselves and second-placed Bournemouth to just two points with a game in hand. The Cherries, who have won their last six, will be eager to maintain that cushion, though, when they visit Shrewsbury Town on Saturday.
League leaders Doncaster Rovers are two points further ahead, on 78, and take on Crewe, who will want to bounce back from that home defeat to Brentford.
Walsall are undefeated in 13, level on points with Tranmere just outside the Play-Offs, and visit Scunthorpe United. The Iron remain in the relegation zone but have the same points tally as Oldham, who occupy the lowest safety position.
Colchester are six points above the Latics prior to their clash with Notts County at Meadow Lane, while Carlisle United are two places further in front and host Preston North End.
Higher up the standings, Milton Keynes Dons and Leyton Orient will both have slim hopes of a top-six finish - they are four points adrift of the Play-Offs - ahead of their meeting at the Matchroom Stadium.
The remaining npower League 1 fixture this weekend takes place in West Sussex, where two mid-table teams - Crawley Town and Coventry City - lock horns.
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