NEWLY-CAPPED Keith Branagan is lined up for a Burnden return in Wanderers' top-of-the-table showdown with Sheffield United tomorrow.

The Bolton keeper, praised by Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy after keeping a clean sheet in Tuesday's scoreless draw with Wales in Cardiff, is tipped for a recall after missing 13 games.

Colin Todd is keeping a close guard on his selection plans and has named Branagan and his successor in the No 1 shirt, Gavin Ward, in his squad.

But a keeper switch is on the cards as Wanderers bid to bounce back after conceding three goals in successive games last week.

Defeats at home to Chesterfield in the FA Cup and at Reading in the league - by a 3-2 margin in each case - have knocked Todd's table-toppers out of their storming stride and the manager is tempted to make changes, particularly in defence.

But he is more likely to plump for minor adjustments rather than a wholesale shake-up. Todd was giving no hints at all about his plans to cope once more without attacking powerhouse Nathan Blake, who serves the second of a two-match suspension. But he has confirmed that he will revert to a 4-4-2 formation after using John McGinlay as a lone striker at Reading.

His decision to pull out of the £500,000 deal for Aberdeen's Scott Booth means he must look to his existing squad to find a partner for 24-goal top scorer McGinlay.

"We'll go with what we've got," he said confidently. "I have a number of options to look at but I won't name my side until tomorrow."

Todd, determined to see his team re-assert their overwhelming authority in the promotion race after having their lead cut from 12 points to nine, sees similarities between tomorrow's clash and the Burnden duel with Wolves four weeks ago, which produced a convincing 3-0 win.

"I'm looking for a performance and a tempo like the one we had that day," he said.

"These are the games you want to win to put even more daylight between yourselves and the rest."

The Blades, who have slipped from second to fourth in the table after recording just one win in their last five games, have major selection problems, especially in midfield.

Simon Tracey steps in for injured keeper Alan Kelly, whose absence paved the way for Branagan's international call. Howard Kendall must also find replacements for suspended midfield pair Don Hutchison and Mark Patterson, who is denied the Burnden return he was hoping for.

Colin Todd will receive the Nationwide Manager of the Month award for January - his third of the season - before tomorrow's game.

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.