Sheff Utd v Bradford: Done aims to grab first ticket to play-off lottery

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Matt Done has never experienced the play-offs, but is hoping he can help fire Sheffield United to league glory at Wembley.

Victory today for the Blades against Bradford City – coupled with seventh-placed Rochdale failing to win at Gillingham –would see United guarantee their top-six spot alongside Bristol City, Preston, MK Dons and Swindon Town.

Sheffield United forward Matt Done (Picture: Martyn Harrison).

Sheffield United forward Matt Done (Picture: Martyn Harrison).

The sixth and final spot looks likely to be Chesterfield’s unless the Spireites suffer an end-of-season collapse.

Nigel Clough’s side would then have two League One games remaining to hone their game, ahead of a two-legged semi-final next month.

For 26-year-old Done – who joined the Blades in the January transfer window – it would be a case of entering into the unknown.

He won automatic promotion with former club Rochdale last season from League Two, but the former Barnsley forward has never played in the end-of-season lottery.

Done, who has banged in seven goals in 15 appearances for United, said: “I got promoted last year, but that was automatic. I came eighth in League One with Rochdale, missing out with two games to go.

“It’s the best way to go up, if you can get promoted through the play-offs.

“The biggest game is the Championship play-off.

“To reach Wembley would be a big day out for the fans, everyone really. It’s the best way to get promoted, just a bit more nervous.”

The Blades have done well in Yorkshire derbies this month, so far, having won 2-0 at Barnsley before pipping Doncaster Rovers 3-2 at Bramall Lane.

Done netted in that win over Rovers, and is looking forward to another derby today.

“The last couple of weeks we have had some big derby games and come out on top,” he said.

“We have got to take form and belief into the Bradford game.

“You can feel the atmosphere before the game. It leaks into the players.

“Lads are up for it every game but, when there’s that little bit of local pride, there’s extra there.

“But our biggest aim is just to win the game and secure the play-offs.

“On a personal note, I’ll be delighted. The reason I came here was to help get Sheffield united promoted.”

United are still hurting after a 1-0 loss at relegated Yeovil Town on Tuesday night.

Dressing room discussions between Clough and his players have highlighted the extra demands placed on players at United, being one of the biggest clubs in the division.

Done knows opposition players will raise their games when they face the Blades, their cup exploits this season only increasing the size of the target on their backs.

“I know there are going to be pressure games,” he said. “But it’s a pressure game you’ve got to thrive on.

“There is never an off game here; the higher you go, every game is a pressure game.

“But you become a professional player to be in these games. You grow up and want to play in front of 20,000.

“If we can go in and sell out Bramall Lane in the play-offs then that’s what we want to be involved in.”

Defeat to Yeovil prompted some criticism of Clough and his team, but Done believes that will only spur on United to clinch promotion.

“It’s a great set of lads and a great staff,” said Done. “If you ever get written off then you’ve got to take it up for the sake of you and your family to prove people wrong.

“We’ve probably had a tough time after Yeovil, but we dust ourselves down and go again. When you’ve got people writing you off then it’s a great feeling to prove them wrong.

“You will always get sticky patches and people doing that. But, like I said, it’s great when you can prove them wrong.

“There was probably a little bit of complacency on Tuesday. We are capable of being in the top two on our day.

“The teams that are, are the ones who do it on a regular basis.

“When we get that momentum, we have a habit of giving ourselves a little kick in the foot.”

This season has highlighted how inconsistent the Blades have been when it comes to results.

Four wins from their last 12 games also highlights why the Blades are not challenging for automatic promotion.

“You get results as inexplicable as the other night against Yeovil, but at the other end of the scale it’s more inexplicable that you can beat Southampton,” said Blades boss Clough.

“To lose to someone away from home in your league, 1-0 through a goalkeeping mistake, happens.

“To beat a team in the top six in the Premier League, and to run another side in the top six close – Spurs – that’s harder to explain. Amongst what we have had recently we have had some very good performances; Barnsley, Scunthorpe, and I thought we played alright at Oldham. We are striving for that consistency now.”

What would help Clough achieve that is a settled first XI.

“We haven’t put our first XI out yet,” admitted Clough.

“Twelve players have played over 40 games for Bristol City this season. You can name their team and they have a settled side. Preston have too, and MK Dons to a certain degree.

“We have chopped and changed, a couple of times through choice, but the majority of times it isn’t.

“We would love a settled back four.”