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Nottingham Forest prediction made as key advantage held over Sheffield United

By Ste McGovern

Home advantage in the second leg of the play-off semi-finals could "tip the game" in the favour of Nottingham Forest, according to Sky Sports pundit Andy Hinchcliffe.

The two sides face off in the first leg at Bramall Lane on Saturday in what should prove to be a tightly contested game. Five points separated them in the final Championship table as they ended up in fourth and fifth position respectively.

Neither Forest or the Blades could be separated in their two league meetings this season, both of which ended 1-1. The hosts are looking to bounce straight back up following relegation from the Premier League last season, while Steve Cooper's men are striving to return to the top flight for the first time in 23 years.

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Ex-England international Hinchcliffe was highly complimentary of the job Paul Heckingbottom has done since taking charge of Sheffield United mid-season, calling it a "masterstroke" of a hire. He does say, however, that there is a lot of expectation on his side, and that injuries and having to play the return leg in front of a raucous crowd at the City Ground may give the Reds the edge in this highly pressurised tie.

"Paul Heckingbottom has done an extraordinary job, it was a masterstroke in terms of giving him the job at the time that they did. It’s the reason that Sheffield United are in the play-offs," the former Everton full-back said on the latest edition of Sky Sports' EFL podcast, via YorkshireLive.

“They have got a few attacking injury problems, which might hinder them come the two big games against Forest. It’s not going to be easy for them, there’s a lot of expectation clearly there as well and on Forest.

“Whoever wins this tie will be expected probably to win the final and get to the Premier League. Huge amount of pressure after dropping out of the Premier League and it looked like they were going to miss out again.

"Paul has done a tremendous job but as he said the play-offs are wonderful and amazing but only if you win out. They are absolutely devastating if it doesn't happen.

"It's a really tough game to call and with Forest at home in the second leg it could tip the game in their favour."

What's your score prediction? Let us know in the comments below!

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