AHEAD of the second of three consecutive home games, manager Nigel Clough admits this may well be Sheffield United’s “biggest week of the season”.
The Blades host Scunthorpe United tonight knowing that victory would strengthen their grip on a play-off place.
With the game one of only two taking place in League One – Rochdale travel to Oldham Athletic – United would move a minimum five points clear of the chasing pack by beating the Iron, and possibly as much as seven.
That would then set up Clough’s side, who beat Port Vale three days ago, for the visit of struggling Crewe Alexandra to Bramall Lane this Saturday.
“I wouldn’t disagree when people say this might be the biggest week of the season for us,” said the Blades’ chief. “Certainly, it could be one of the most significant.
“The most important thing now is getting the result, not necessarily the performance – even if the two inevitably often go hand in hand. We get criticised at times for saying ‘that’s a good point’ after a draw.
“It is taken the wrong way, almost as if we are not going out there to win. Of course, we are. But if we’d drawn with Fleetwood and Peterborough rather than lost (earlier this month), we’d be in a much stronger position, wouldn’t we?”
Michael Doyle was a surprise omission from the starting line-up against Vale, and the club captain may again have to be content with a place on the bench against Scunthorpe.
Clough revealed: “We will try and protect Michael Doyle from suspension. He is only two (bookings) away now and there are another four or five games to go yet before the cut-off point.”
United have been busy trying to bring in a fresh face ahead of Thursday’s deadline but, as yet, no progress has been made.
Clough continued: “We will follow up the calls in the next couple of days, but we are not desperate.
“A lot will depend on Terry Kennedy, who will hopefully play in a friendly on Wednesday.”
Last six games: Sheffield United DLLDDW, Scunthorpe United LDDLDL.
Referee: M Heywood (West Yorkshire).
Last time: Sheffield United 3 Scunthorpe United 0; December 26, 2012; League One.