IT was just like any other ordinary Saturday night in front of the television for Stuart McCall. Then the penny dropped about an extraordinary challenge.

McCall settled down to watch Match of the Day and cast his eye over the teams that he will, surely, be facing next season as Sheffield United close in on promotion to the Premier League. The Blades don't need to wait until August to face the best in the land, though.

United have seen off fellow Championship outfits Millwall and Blackburn Rovers, ended the Roy of the Rovers Wrexham story and toppled Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup. Now they face the side that are favourites for the Champions League and are within touching distance of a Treble.

The Herald: Stuart McCall

McCall and Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom would have needed no reminding about how ominous the task will be in the aftermath of the draw. Recent weeks have included thumping wins over RB Leipzig, Liverpool and Bayern Munich and the reality of the situation caught McCall cold earlier this month.

"I'm not," McCall laughed when asked if he was looking forward to facing City. "And I tell you what, if they can get two or three red cards in the first five minutes, you know we might take it to penalties!

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"Oh, my goodness me. I'll be honest, I think think it was last weekend or the week before, I sat down to watch Match of the Day and the highlights. I was watching them thinking 'wow, what a side this is'. And I promise you, it took me three or four minutes to think 'f*** me', we play them at Wembley!'

"I was just loving the football, I was almost clapping watching the telly. What a team they are at the moment, they are playing unbelievable football. I swear to God, it was about three or four minutes later I remembered we had to find a way to beat them.

"Listen, it is a great occasion. Brighton would have been tough, Man Utd would have been tough, but the way City are playing at the moment means it is going to be a really, really difficult one. For the fans, we have to go and enjoy it and try our best."

The result may be something of a foregone conclusion at Wembley but it will still be an occasion to savour for those that will make the trip from the Steel City to the National Stadium.

Around 34,000 will turn an end into a sea of red and white. McCall has been focused on the job in hand but has also been caught up in the clamour for tickets.

"It is funny," McCall said. "All my family, I have got loads of people going down. It is not cheap to have a day out at Wembley and I am saying 'are you sure you want to go?' The grandkids are used to watching us win at home and taking the game to teams.

The Herald: Sheffield United’s Tommy Doyle fires home the winning goal (Nigel French/PA).

"Then my pal gave me a text a couple of weeks ago and said 'any chance of a couple of tickets for the semi?' I was thinking 'it's a long way from Glasgow to come down' but I said I would manage them no problem.

"Then he came back to me and 'great, I have not been to an Old Firm semi-final'. I was promising tickets thinking he was coming to our game. I should have known better!"

While Pep Guardiola's side were easing into the semi-finals of the Champions League this week, United were edging a step closer to their own promised land with victory over Bristol City.

Four fixtures, the next two of which are at Bramall Lane, provide the Blades with the perfect opportunity to secure a Premier League spot.

In many ways, the visit of West Brom next week is even more significant than facing the superstars of City.

"At the beginning of the season, the last thing our fans wanted was a trip to Wembley," McCall said. "We haven't got a great record in the play-offs and finals over the years.

"For them to be able to sing about going to Wembley this year, in an FA Cup semi-final, is beyond their wildest dreams, really. Hopefully we can get the league tied up on the Wednesday after we come back from Wembley and that would be some achievement.

"Listen, we are going to be up against an outstanding side and it is one we just want to make sure we stay in the game for as long as we can. There is an outside, outside, outside chance that we might nick a corner!

"It is something we will prepare for meticulously and we know, it is the old cliche, that we will have to be at our maximum best and carry a bit of luck. But it is a 90 minute game of football and we have seen stranger results in the past. It would be a huge result if could get through and we will give it our best, for sure."

Former Hibs boss Heckingbottom was the man in charge when United were relegated two years ago this month but the damage had been done long before that as Chris Wilder failed to build on a dream campaign back in the top flight.

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The matches with Spurs and City this term will whet the appetite in the red half of Sheffield. The lure of facing teams of that calibre week after week is what inspires McCall now that he is back at the club where he finished his illustrious playing career.

"That is exactly it and how we have got to look at it," McCall said. "We missed out in the play-offs last season and then you look at the teams that are coming down. We targeted the play-offs and hoped that we would be right up there and for us to be there all season has been terrific.

"With four games to go, we have got a great chance of finishing that off now. That would be a remarkable season to have this run in the FA Cup and get promotion back to the Premier League. It would be brilliant."