Collins is confident repeat will land title for Blades

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“It’s like asking me who my favourite child is.”

This was the blunt response when defender Neill Collins was asked if winning promotion with Sheffield United would be the biggest achievement of his career.

Centre-back Collins has an impressive CV, having been part of two Championship clubs who have won promotion to the Premier League.

“If I was to say it would be the best achievement of me career, does that mean winning promotion with Sunderland and Wolves mean less because at the time it wouldn’t have been,” he continued.

“When I played at Sunderland, 15 times that season, it was when I had just come from part-time football and winning a Championship medal, it was the best thing ever at the time.

“Then at Wolves, it was fantastic. I played a bigger part to get promoted.

“But this time, it will be just as good, amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world. Promotion here would be up there; let’s hope we do it.”

The Blades have 11 games remaining in League One, but know the title is in their own hands. They sit a point off leaders Doncaster Rovers, but have a game in hand.

United were nudged out of the top two at the end of last season by city rivals Wednesday, but Collins insists a similar 90-point haul this term would clinch the championship.

“We will win the league if we get 90 points,” he said. “I don’t mind saying that. Anyone in the league would say that.

“Although we never quite made it last season, I think we did really well. We focused very much on ourselves, won an awful lot of games, we got a lot of points and showed we could do it.

“There will be a few twists and turns still, but it’s going to be exciting. I think the difference between this season and last is there is no one running away with it, teams at the bottom being of a much better standard than they were last time.

“We have 64 now, 11 games left. There’s not going to be three teams this year with 90 points. We know what we need to do.”

The Blades claimed 22 points from their last 11 games last season to finish on 90 – three points behind second-placed Wednesday.

Losing to the Owls in February, one of three defeats in four for Wilson’s side, would eventually prove the difference between automatic promotion and the play-offs.

United suffered a dip in form this season – which coincided with injuries to key players like Collins – but have chalked up five successive clean sheets to sit just a point off leaders Doncaster, who slumped to a 3-0 midweek defeat against today’s visitors.

“It’s very pleasing because keeping clean sheets means you are obviously picking up points,” said the 29-year-old.

The former Scotland B international believes the form of Academy products, goalkeeper George Long and centre-back Harry Maguire, has been key to a settled back five for the Blades.

“George Long has made a couple of great saves, but he will probably be the first to admit he hasn’t been overly active,” he said. “It’s down to the 10 guys in front of him having worked really hard.

“I think the defence have done well all season. Prior to me breaking my cheekbone, I think we had three clean sheets in a row, and the back four has been very much about continuity.

“Me and Harry (Maguire) have a good partnership, great understanding. All season long, apart from the blip when we had injuries, I think we have been very steady.

“Michael Doyle (in midfield) is a defender’s dream because he closes down, picks up scraps, protects you. He’s just one of many,” he added.

Collins believes Long will be on the radar of many Premier League scouts and believes there are hints of Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel about the Sheffield-born 19-year-old.

“George has done very well this season. Playing at a club like Sheffield United in goal is probably tougher than playing for a lesser team where you are busier. It’s all about concentration and that one moment in the game when you are called upon to do something.

“They used to say with 
Schmeichel he had one thing to do in five games, but that one thing was very important.

“George has done that well. He will admit he has had protection and has had his big friend in front of him, Harry – the pair came up through the ranks – and that must help him massively.

“The position I play in is also very much down to who plays beside me. Me and Harry have been so important for each other.

“We get on well. Harry’s a young lad, I have a family so we are not hitting town – those days are gone – but he’s a good lad, a great knowledge of the game for one so young. I really enjoy playing alongside him.

“We know what we need to do between now and the end of the season. If we do that, we will get promoted.”

Blades manager Danny Wilson has called on fans to get behind United today and cheer them to promotion. “We need to start positively and get the fans out of their seats, but when that isn’t possible we need vocal support, as much as 
possible to drive us on,” said Wilson.

richard.hercock@ypn.co.uk