NIGEL ADKINS admits he has learned plenty about his Sheffield United players after witnessing their shock 3-2 home loss to Colchester – with most of it not particularly edifying.
The Blades are reeling following successive Bramall Lane defeats to the U’s and Bury, which has represented far from ideal preparation for Sunday’s derby at Bradford City.
Victory on Tuesday night would have lifted Adkins’ side to third spot in League One, but instead they slumped to a third league defeat in seven games this term, with the Blades chief acknowledging that big improvements, particularly defensively, are required if they are to clinch promotion.
Adkins said: “I have learned a lot about us as a group, playing under the lights at Bramall Lane and my expectations and everybody else’s.
“You can’t concede six goals in two games, especially here at home if we want to achieve our goal, which is to get promoted.
“I have got a lot of work to do behind the scenes.”
Adkins was particularly scathing of his side’s first-half defensive performance, with the Blades forced to play catch-up after George Moncur stunned the overwhelming majority of the home crowd and gave the visitors a two-goal cushion.
He added: “For me, we gifted them two goals as you can’t just let midfield players walk past you and leave them.
“That can’t happen. You must have defensive resolve to stay with a player.
“For me, we were not good enough in the first half. We need to do better and work harder than when did.”
Meanwhile, Adkins is hoping that Che Adams and Ryan Flynn will be in the fray for the trip to Valley Parade.
A groin niggle saw Flynn, who had been in the mix for a first start of the season on Tuesday, withdraw on the afternoon of the game, but it is not thought to be a major concern.
Adams is now over the illness that his afflicted him over the past week and is expected to return to training today.
The pacey forward missed the weekend clash with Bury and was still feeling under the weather ahead of the Colchester clash.
Adkins said: “All being well, Che has recovered from his illness and will be able to get on the training ground and do a bit of exercise as he has not been able to do that for nine days.
“Hopefully, Ryan will recover sufficiently for the weekend as well.”