Barnsley v Sheffield United: Evans is content to go it alone for Blades

Travelling to one of your local rivals with the second lowest goals tally in the Football League and just one available striker hardly seems ideal.

But if Sheffield United's Ched Evans is feeling anything less than confident ahead of today's south Yorkshire derby at Barnsley then he is not showing it.

The Blades have endured a

miserable season in front of goal and have found the net just 16 times in 19 games, one behind Hull City in the Championship and three adrift of second bottom Middlesbrough.

Such a poor return is why Gary Speed's side sit just two points and two places above the relegation zone.

But that has done nothing to dent the confidence of Evans, who seems certain to play the lone frontman role at Oakwell due to his fellow strikers being unavailable through either injury or suspension.

The 21-year-old said: "The goals (tally) is not a worry because when you have players like Andy Reid making chances for you it is only a matter of time before the goals start coming.

"It is just down to the lads to create the chances and put them away.

"We may be in 20th place but the only thing we are doing is looking upwards and not over our shoulders.

"This league is so tight that we are still only half a dozen or so points off the play-offs.

"That is what we are still going for and I am confident when we get everyone fully fit and available that we will be up there challenging."

Evans's goal tally for the season stands at just three, though even such a small return makes him United's joint second highest scorer with Richard Cresswell

behind Mark Yeates with four.

Cresswell is one of four Blades forwards unavailable today, the former Leeds man joining Daniel Bogdanovic in being suspended following his red card against Bristol City last weekend.

The other absentees, Darius Henderson and Jamie Ward, are due to injury to leave Speed's attacking options severely limited.

Evans, however, is adamant that playing the lone frontman role suits his game and points to previous experience of the role with former club Manchester City.

He said: "The good thing about being the only striker available is that at least I know I am going to get a game.

"Seriously, though, it is never good to be in this position with so many players unavailable – either through injury or suspension.

"But I shall just work as hard as I can as it is a big responsibility being up there on your own.

"It puts extra pressure on you if you are up there on your own but I have done the job before and know what it entails.

"I remember playing in a UEFA Cup tie for Manchester City as a lone striker and going into that game I was wondering how I would get on.

"But if you get the quality of service and support from the players around you it can be a good and fulfilling role to play.

"It definitely makes my job a lot easier having players like Andy Reid supporting me and running off me.

"Obviously, Darius is an influential player for us and he is great for me to play alongside because he is so good at holding the ball up and making a nuisance of himself with defenders. We have certainly missed him and it will be good to eventually get him back."

United will face a Barnsley side enjoying their best run of form in a year after claiming 10 points from their last four games to move into mid-table.

The upturn in form means the Reds are four points ahead of their derby rivals, though manager Mark Robins is quick to point out that the formbook can count for little when two teams from the same area go head-to-head.

He said: "Everyone knows what is at stake and our supporters are really looking forward to this one. Hopefully, we will get as close to a full house as possible and our fans are a vital ingredient to us winning football matches.

"We expect Sheffield United to come here and press us very quickly. They have some dangerous players and we cannot allow them too much time or space on the ball.

"We have to take care of that before we can show what we can do."

Barnsley boast an impressive record against Yorkshire opposition this season with the 5-2 hammering of Leeds United in September the clear highlight.

The Reds also beat Middlesbrough 2-0 in August, while Hull City's visit to Oakwell in October ended 1-1 after an entertaining 90 minutes in which both sides could have won.

Robins said: "We are really looking forward to this one, especially after a frustrating two-week break. Everyone is fine and there are no problems with any of the players.

"Nathan Doyle is back (after suspension) and everyone is in contention."