Blades set to launch another cup run

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Sheffield United will be keen to avoid a taste of their own medicine when they face Macclesfield Town in the first round of the Carling Cup, the latest incarnation of the League Cup, tonight.

The Blades reached last season's semi-finals with victories over higher-division opposition in Leeds and Sunderland, as well as beating Leeds again in the FA Cup. The midfielder Mark Rankine is expected to shake off a slight knock, though Steve Kabba - who has a knee injury - is still a month away from returning to action.

The Macclesfield defender Steve Macauley missed Saturday's goalless draw with Boston followingknee surgery, but the extra few days' training may allow him to play. David Flitcroft is serving the second game of a two-match suspension.

Andreas Lipa is set to make his first start for Port Vale when they welcome four-times League Cup winners Nottingham Forest to Vale Park. Lipa, who missed two friendlies due to injury, proved his worth in the 2-1 win against Bournemouth on Saturday when he came on for Mark Boyd early in the second half. Neil Brisco misses his second successive game through suspension, while Dean Delany again starts in goal in place of Mark Goodlad, who has an injured finger.

Forest have a doubt over Brynjar Gunnarsson after he sustained a dead leg during an impressive debut performance in the 2-0 home win over Sunderland. Danny Sonner is likely to deputise - as he did against the Black Cats - should Gunnarsson fail to be fit.

Watford will hold a minute's silence for their late on-loan winger, Jimmy Davis, ahead of their tie with Bournemouth. The Hornets postponed their season opener against Coventry after the Manchester United player was killed in a car crash. But their first-round tie at Vicarage Road will go ahead. The defender Paul Robinson is suspended, while Wayne Brown and Jason Norville are sidelined with calf and hamstring injuries respectively.

Shaun Maher will miss out for Bournemouth after injuring his ankle in training. Neil Young is out with an ankle injury, and the goalkeeper Gareth Stewart, who has been suffering from a foot injury, is again expected to start the game on the bench.

A question mark hangs over the fitness of the West Bromwich albion defender Larus Sigurdsson for the home tie with Brentford. The Iceland international managed only 35 minutes of Saturday's 4-1 Division One defeat at Walsall before a back injury put paid to his participation. The central defender Thomas Gaardsoe, a close-season signing from Ipswich, has returned to training after an ankle injury.

Stephen Evans is back in contention for a place in the Brentford side after he missed Saturday's 4-1 defeat at Tranmere with a leg injury.

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