STEFAN SCOUGALL is confident that Sheffield United will handle the expectation firmly on their shoulders after their exploits in the second half of last season.
The Blades impressively cast aside their demons from the first half of last term with some scintillating form in the final three months of the campaign, which was crowned by an outstanding run to the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.
The promotion form that Nigel Clough’s men displayed from the start of February onwards in propelling themselves from a relegation dogfight to within contention of the play-offs with a string of wins and clean sheets has seriously whetted the appetites of Blades fans, who are expecting the Bramall Lane outfit to be right at the forefront at the business end of League One once the first ball is kicked on August 9.
Impish midfielder Scougall, one of a number of Blades players worthy of pats on the backs for their fine exploits, is sure that the Blades will cope with the heightened expectations of being promotion favourites and indeed relish them.
He said: “I think these group of boys can handle and relish that. Everyone knows we need to be up there challenging from the first game of the season.
“We need to win our first game and get a good start and hopefully by this time next year, we are preparing for the Championship.
“All the boys are looking forward to the season and can’t wait to get started now.
“With the way we finished last season, if we do the same for the whole season, we will be challenging.”
Meanwhile, Scougall is also looking forward to linking up again with compatriot and former Livingston team-mate Marc McNulty - and is backing the newcomer to be a hit in 2014-15.
McNulty followed the Tartan trail south to England this summer and has linked up with the Blades on a three-year deal and Scougall is sure he will add an additional goalscoring element to Nigel Clough’s options - and be a success south of the border.
Hoping to re-create the successful partnership which saw the pair prosper at Almondvale, Scougall added: “We played with each other for a few years and know each other’s game and hopefully, we can re-establish that here and hopefully produce the goods for Sheffield United.
“If you give him a chance, he will score a goal and as long as we can create chances for him, he will do well and score goals.
“If he works hard and knuckles down, he’s got a real chance and I am sure he will score goals for us, definitely. If we create chances for him, he will score.”