Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom hoping to avoid ‘complicated’ Man City semi-final
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom hopes to avoid Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals so loanee Tommy Doyle can emulate his boyhood dream.
Doyle has the chance to follow in the footsteps of his grandfathers by playing at Wembley after firing the Blades into the FA Cup semi-finals with a stunning injury-time winner against Blackburn.
The midfielder, who is on loan from City, has watched video footage of his paternal grandfather Mike Doyle and maternal grandfather Glyn Pardoe playing at the national stadium for his parent club in the late 1960s and 1970s and he could now do so himself after his 25-yard thunderbolt earned a dramatic 3-2 quarter-final win at Bramall Lane.
That dream could be complicated if the Blades are paired with Pep Guardiola’s side, who may not give permission for Doyle and fellow loanee James McAtee to play against them.
Heckingbottom said: “My wish is we don’t draw City, we don’t complicate things with the loans, that is just what I wish, but we will wait and see.
“It would have to be discussed, it just complicates things, if we avoid them they are our players and if we drew them, they are their players.”
Doyle’s strike completed a late turnaround as United had been heading out, trailing to goals from Ben Brereton Diaz and Sam Szmodics, which came either side of Sam Gallagher’s own goal, until the final 10 minutes.
Oli McBurnie got the Blades level in the 81st minute before Doyle’s heroics booked a first FA Cup semi-final spot for the Blades since 2014 in a thrilling tie.
Their trip to Wembley is supplementing a promotion charge in the Championship – they like second in the table – and Heckingbottom wants to write an “unbelievable story”.
“For us to be in April and be in with a chance of automatic promotion and be in the semi-final of the FA Cup is an unbelievable achievement, it is fantastic and it is a big pat on the back for everyone at the club,” the boss said.
“I’m really focused and intent on us achieving something and not just getting credit, but getting an outcome.
“It’s been a fantastic season so far and I am focused on capping it off, it could end up being an unbelievable one.
“It could be an unbelievable story, but it’s just a story everyone should enjoy, people should enjoy the position we are in the league and in the FA Cup semi-final. And we will take it game by game now. It’s going to be tight and intense.”
Blackburn boss Jon Dahl Tomasson believes the game should have been stopped in the build-up to Doyle’s winner when Tyler Morton went down with a head injury after a challenge from Iliman Ndiaye.
“The head injury for Morton, they say it was only a finger in the eye, but he would have been standing in that zone where the goal came from,” the Norwegian said. “Imagine if it was something really serious.
“I said to the referee, ‘Normally, you stop a game with a head injury’. I think he knows it. It’s OK.
“Of course it should have been stopped, that’s the rules, isn’t it? It’s a big moment, imagine if there is something really dangerous. You can’t run when you can’t see out of your eye.
“I’m thinking about consequence, what the consequences could have been.
“Imagine that, it could have been extremely serious. We all know with a head injury you need to stop immediately, it could be very dangerous.”