John Lundstram strives to hold on to his Sheffield United starting role

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JOHN LUNDSTRAM hopes he has done enough in the last two games to force his way into Sheffield United’s play-off-chasing starting XI.

The 24-year-old midfielder has been a peripheral figure recently but started the Good Friday draw with Brentford and in the point picked up against Cardiff City on Monday; a result that felt like a defeat for the Blades, so late was the Bluebirds equaliser.

But after seizing his chance, the former Everton prospect wants to hold down a first-team place ahead of a huge week that could go a long way to shaping United’s play-off ambitions.

They visit relegation-threatened Barnsley for an eagerly-anticipated lunchtime derby before welcoming fellow top-six hopefuls Middlesbrough on Tuesday night and Millwall four days later.

“I’m glad I’ve been given a chance and I’ve taken it,” said Lundstram.

“I would have liked to have played more football at the start of the season, but the lads were playing a good football and I’m just glad to be playing a part in that.

Sheffield United's John Lundstram challenges for a header. Picture: Robin Parker/Sportimage

Sheffield United's John Lundstram challenges for a header. Picture: Robin Parker/Sportimage

“We’re achieving something and it’s nice to be part of a successful team.

“Hopefully, I’ve played my part to make the manager’s decision that little bit tougher.”

Those two fixtures with Middlesbrough and Millwall represent the perfect opportunity to hammer home their play-off credentials, with the recent performances against Brentford and Cardiff suggesting they can last the course.

If anything, they should have taken all three points against Neil Warnock’s Cardiff, before Anthony Pilkington’s stoppage-time leveller.

I would have liked to have played more football at the start of the season, but the lads were playing a good football and I’m just glad to be playing a part in that.

Sheffield United’s John Lundstram

“It was bittersweet because we played so well, so to come away with just a point was really disheartening,” said Lundstram.

“But we are playing well and creating chances. We should have won both those games.

“We’ve just got to clear our heads and put it right and stamp our authority on the game with Barnsley early on.”

United will be without Richard Stearman, who yesterday underwent a scan on the hamstring injury sustained in Monday’s game.

Sheffield United's Richard Stearman, right: David Klein/Sportimage

Sheffield United's Richard Stearman, right: David Klein/Sportimage

“Jake Wright should come in for Stearman,” said Blades manager Chris Wilder.

“Jake has been great during my time at the club.”