Sheff Utd v Bury: Refreshed Blades have now issued statement of intent

Sheffield United's Chris Basham is enjoying his central midfield role for the Blades (Picture: Martyn Harrison).

Sheffield United's Chris Basham is enjoying his central midfield role for the Blades (Picture: Martyn Harrison).

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If Sheffield United eventually clinch promotion back to the Championship, Chris Basham will pinpoint a summer’s day in Wiltshire as a key moment.

The Blades were thrashed 5-2 at Swindon Town last season, and also conceded five on their return in May as Nigel Clough’s side crashed out of the play-offs at the semi-final stage.

So United fans could have been forgiven for fearing the worst when they headed back to the County Ground a fortnight ago.

But goals from Neill Collins and Billy Sharp secured an impressive 2-0 win – United’s fourth successive league victory – to leave them in touching distance of the League One summit.

Basham believes victory over Swindon was a “statement of intent” for the coming months.

“Going to Swindon and winning there, it put a statement down,” said Basham. “I wouldn’t say it is a massive weight off our shoulders, but it feels really good. It helps psychologically.

“Winning games creates a belief and that’s what we have at the moment.

“I think everyone is enjoying coming in and being around each other. I think we have always had that, since day one, when I 
arrived.

“But there’s that little bit extra now we have won four games on the bounce, it’s a great feeling and there’s a bounce about the place.”

On the back of those four successive league wins, United did not want an international break.

But four players – Che Adams, David Edgar, Callum McFadzean and Louis Reed – received call-ups, forcing the Blades into a blank weekend.

Not that there was much of a break for the Blades players left behind.

“Personally, it’s been a great break, and for the group it’s helped get rid of a few niggles with the lads coming back from injury,” said Basham.

“We just feel refreshed again. You don’t want it to happen when you are on such a good run, but it’s happened, and we just focus on Bury now. Some teams you get a few days off, but this gaffer doesn’t want us to do that – just Saturday and Sunday off to recover – because it was a really hard shift during the week.

“Knowing that we didn’t have a game on the Saturday, we could put extra in.

“We had the weekend off to spend with families, get away somewhere, or go home. Some of the Scottish lads went back home; I went back to Newcastle, then back in Monday morning ready to go again.

“All managers are different, some give you time off, some managers like to see you in.”

Basham is enjoying life under new manager Adkins, the former Blackpool player relishing his midfield duties.

“I am really enjoying being in midfield,” he said. “I like what the staff are trying to do for me personally. My energy is always my best asset. I don’t know if the gaffer sees me as a centre-half, so I need to focus on being the midfielder that he wants me to be.

“There’s a lot of one-to-ones on the training field – not the gaffer, he does more of the team things.

“The coaches are improving my game a lot. I am 27 years old now and reaping the rewards.

“I am enjoying myself. It’s hard work, but, hopefully, we will reap the rewards come May next year.”

First, though, is today’s visit of promoted Bury, who have invested heavily for the League One campaign.

Basham is a big admirer of former Barnsley manager David Flitcroft – now in charge at Bury – having worked with him during a loan spell at Rochdale.

He said: “Bury will be a tough game. They beat Walsall, top of the league, scored after six minutes and showed they can defend a lead.

“They have brought in quality players from League One and the Championship. I know the manager (Flitcroft) having played under him at Rochdale.

“He will have them rallied and up for it. They have money behind them and they are not looking to be in League One, they are looking to be in the Championship. He is a good manager, he knows what he wants.

“He has been backed to get the players that he wants, and he has gone and done it.

“They have done really well at the start of the season and are no pushovers, that’s for sure.”

There is little chance of United taking Bury lightly, according to Basham, having learned their lesson last season that there are no easy games in League One.

“Coming from last year’s experiences, there are no easy games,” he said. “Teams like Fleetwood, which you thought might have been an easy team, came to Bramall Lane and beat us.

“The new manager is really looking into the depth of the team.

“We look at games which Bury have played in – I don’t want to say too much about what happens behind the scenes – but it is something we are doing a lot this season.

“How can we break the opposition down, how can we beat Bury – it’s working well at the moment.

“Hopefully, we will benefit from the international break. We can see their strengths and their weaknesses.”

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