Wilson hopeful Blades deal with fixture backlog

Danny Wilson
Danny Wilson
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DANNY WILSON last night called for Sheffield United to be treated with “fairness” if the Arctic weather continues to wreak havoc on the League One promotion race after the Football League confirmed the season will not be extended.

The Blades, who travel to Tranmere Rovers tomorrow, are facing a hectic run-in of nine games in 30 days following a series of postponements in recent weeks.

However, should the current cold snap cause any further fixtures to be called off, United’s already packed schedule will quickly take on nightmare proportions.

Only a re-jigging of the club’s fixture list earlier this week to accommodate the rearranged Brentford home game, which fell victim to heavy snow last weekend, prevented Wilson’s men from having to play three times in six days.

The United manager said: “Ideally, you don’t want a clutch of games like we have got. But there is no alternative, especially as the games that have been postponed had to be called off.

“Sadly, it has given us a bit of a fixture pile-up but we will get through it by managing the players’ workloads.

“What we are hoping, though, is that this is it in terms of postponed games. We need the weather to be forgiving over the next few days and allow us to get two matches played. Anything else would make things very difficult. Having to play three or four (games) in a week, that would be asking a hell of a lot.”

Once the Easter double-header that will also see Carlisle United visit Bramall Lane on Monday is out of the way, United face fixtures on each of the final three Tuesdays before the season ends on Saturday, April 27.

The weekend of May 4-5 and the following midweek have then been set aside for the two legs of the play-off semi-finals with the Wembley final scheduled for Sunday, May 19.

Those dates are set in stone, as a League spokesman made clear to the Yorkshire Post last night.

He said: “There are no plans to extend the season beyond the scheduled final day. There are certain dates in a season that cannot be moved and the play-offs are some of them.

“So, we will continue to schedule fixtures in the remaining gaps. Beyond that, we would have to go down the Tuesday-Thursday way of doing things.”

Only Oldham Athletic in League One have as many remaining games as the Blades with the likes of Tranmere and Bournemouth having just six matches to play – meaning any further problems with the weather would prove far less disruptive.

Wilson said: “Playing two games in a week does not worry me. We have had that before, including at the start of the season when all the Cup games were being played. But we do need fairness. There will be a lot of teams in our position who would love to see us playing a lot of games inside a week.

“We are trying our best to get games on but the weather dictates everything so there is nothing we can do about it. I would like to think there would be an element of fairness in it. And an understanding that if further games are lost then we are all in the same position of playing games simultaneously.

“Our problem is you just don’t know what people sitting in offices think. They don’t seem bothered about us, just that the fixtures are got out of the way.

“The problem the League talk about is the play-offs and that you can’t change those dates. But the Tuesday (April 30) after the season (is scheduled to end) could be a possibility.

“That would be the absolute end, in terms of when the season could be pushed back to. The play-off finals can’t be pushed back but maybe the semi-finals could go back slightly.”

United are likely to be missing Jamie Murphy tomorrow when they take on a side who Wilson admits have been the surprise package of the League One season.

The Blades manager added: “Tranmere are always strong at home but Ronnie (Moore, Rovers manager) has worked miracles with his team this season. At the start of the season, if I am honest I didn’t expect them to be challenging.

“I would imagine most managers would have said the same. What Ronnie has done really well is use the loan market.

“The players he has brought in on loan are performing well, none less than (Mamady) Sidibe from Stoke. He has also had young Michael O’Halloran, who we had.

“You can go through quite a few loanees who have come in at Tranmere and done well. They have helped keep the momentum going. There was a bit of a blip when a couple had to go back but that happens to everyone in a season.”

United and Tranmere are two of the six sides sitting between second and seventh in the table separated by just three points.

Wilson added: “We are in a very strong position. We are in control of our destiny at the moment, as should we win every game then we are promoted.

“That is very important. We have to keep it that way, as we don’t want to be relying on others to sort it out.

“The good thing is we have shown all season that we are capable of beating anyone in this division.

“I want us to use the next three or four games to give us the platform to really make a push.

“What has surprised me this season is I thought one or two teams might have shot out of the cannon and been hard to catch. But no-one has managed it, us included.”