Blackman is planning to shoot down Pirates

BACK in the automatic promotion places for the first time since the heart-breaking finale that saw Sheffield Wednesday emerge triumphant in a nerve-wracking Steel City fight for supremacy, United could be forgiven for seeing the FA Cup as something of an irritation.

For Nick Blackman, however, the chance to put the push for the Championship on hold in order to steer a way past Bristol Rovers in today’s first round is something to relish.

He said: “The Cup is not a break from the League, not at all. Obviously, the League is the priority as we want to win promotion. But we also want to do well in the Cup and get as far as we can do.

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“We want to go to Bristol Rovers and win, as simple as that. We are building momentum in the League but I am just as happy to play a Cup tie. Any game in front of us has to be won and this is no different.”

Blackman, who scored the goal last Monday that took the Blades into the top two of League One, is in the minority among Danny Wilson’s squad in that he has past experience of playing at Bristol’s Memorial Stadium.

Not that his previous visit in September, 2009, was one to recall fondly with the 22-year-old having been part of the Oldham Athletic side beaten 1-0 by the Pirates during a loan spell from Blackburn Rovers.

What that defeat does mean, however, is that Blackman knows that progress to the second round will have to be earned today.

He added: “Bristol Rovers aren’t doing too well in the League at the moment but I have played there in the past when on loan at Oldham.

“It is not an easy place to go. They won’t make it easy so we have to take the game to them.”

Rovers have had a difficult start to the season and sit just a couple of points above the relegation zone in League Two.

In contrast, Danny Wilson’s side are on a roll with Monday’s win over Portsmouth meaning they maintained their record as the only unbeaten team in the Football League this season.

United have also won their last five games on the road to help bury the memory of last Spring when they were beaten to automatic promotion during the run-in.

Blackman, who has eight goals to his name this term, said: “The team is gelling, even if we are not playing as well as we can in terms of passing the ball. What we are doing is grinding out results against good opposition.

“We need to keep plugging away and see where it takes us. We have good options across the squad and that means everyone has to keep working as hard as we can.

“Obviously, it is nice to be top scorer at the moment but the key is getting the wins. The boys are not getting carried away.”