DANNY Wilson insists that Sheffield United will not be bullied off the path to promotion by Graham Westley’s Preston North End.
Westley’s style of football wins few admirers among the purists and his former club Stevenage inflicted a 2-1 defeat on the Blades back in September.
Now a month into his new job with the Lillywhites, Westley wasted no time this week in reminding the Blades about that result.
But Wilson, whose side moved up to second in the table courtesy of a midweek victory over promotion rivals Huddersfield Town, said: “I think we are better equipped to cope with the physical side of the game now.
“At the beginning of the season, it may have been a bit of a shock to some of the players. I think some teams bullied us out of games on two or three occasions.
“We might not have settled, or we felt sorry for ourselves, and we used that as an excuse,” he added. “Whatever it was, we didn’t do it as well in the first half of the season as we are doing now.”
Wilson had spent the majority of his managerial career in League One prior to joining the Blades and the demands of the division would come as no surprise.
“This league is all about the phsyical side of the game,” he admitted. “And you have to be able to compete with that. You can have the best 11 players, technically, in the country but there is a chance they will get beat on a regular basis in this division unless the physicality is there. You have to be able to stand toe to toe with that challenge and we are doing that better now.”
Wilson believes today’s contest will be ‘very aggressive’ as Preston seek to gain revenge for a 4-2 defeat at Deepdale in October.
The Blades are now in control of their own destiny – two points clear of third-place rivals Sheffield Wednesday with two games in hand,
“It is significant because it shows we have been consistent with the results,” said Wilson. “And it is pleasing because we have worked very hard to get there. But we have not done anything yet and the challenge now is to stay there.”
With former England striker James Beattie available again after suspension, Wilson has five senior strikers at his disposal for the first time this season.
Loan signing Will Hoskins scored on his debut against Wycome Wanderers last weekend but was kept on the bench for the majority of the Huddersfield game,
Strikers Ched Evans and Richard Cresswell are likely to keep their places but Wilson also has Chris Porter in reserve.