Sheffield United target remains play-offs, insists Mark Duffy

CHRIS WILDER'S fury after watching Sheffield United lose at Hull City last Friday was clear for all to see.

Mark Duffy of Sheffield United.
Mark Duffy of Sheffield United.

“That is us done now,” said the Blades manager in dismissing his side’s hopes of qualifying for the play-offs. “We have shown that the players have maxed out. That is us done.”

Even allowing for that poor performance at the KCOM Stadium, however, things are looking anything but bleak for Wilder’s men.

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Thanks to Tuesday night’s 3-1 win at Reading, the Blades are back in the top six. They have also taken nine points from their last four matches, a tally only Cardiff City and Millwall can beat in the ever-demanding Championship.

With Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion due at Bramall Lane this weekend ahead of next Tuesday’s crunch clash at Fulham, United’s season is, contrary to what Wilder suggested after the Hull loss, potentially building to a successful climax.

“The aim is to get into those play-offs,” said Mark Duffy, the scorer of the second goal at the Madejski Stadium. “Twelve games to go and everything to fight for.

“We are at the business end of the season and we want to compete in that. Each game becomes more important.

“That Fulham game could be a big one. But we also have Preston and Bristol City before the end of the season. All games we are looking forward to.”

United’s return to the top six after a month away is timely. It could, though, also be temporary with victory for Middlesbrough in Friday night’s home clash with Leeds United enough to take Tony Pulis’s men above the Blades.

Whether that game goes ahead at the Riverside remains to be seen with Boro admitting yesterday the heavy snow and ice on Teesside had put the game in doubt.

Regardless, Duffy believes the Blades have already made an important statement this week with the manner of Tuesday’s victory over Reading.

“We were disappointed coming off that pitch (at Hull) because it was a million miles away from what we are,” said the Liverpudlian. “Reading was the first chance to put that right and it was a proper Sheffield United performance. Over the last 18 months, people have got used to that and we want to continue it.”