Sheffield United v Cardiff City: Blades need to turn up the heat on rivals, says Morgan

SHEFFIELD United captain Chris Morgan has set a target of five wins from the remaining six games in order to avoid relegation to League One.

The Blades dropped to the bottom of the Championship table last weekend after defeat to Middlesbrough and sit seven points adrift of safety ahead of tonight’s home game with third-placed Cardiff City.

Morgan, whose absence with a knee injury has been a major blow over the last five months, thinks the Blades also need maximum points from the next two games to stay up.

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After tonight’s game with Cardiff, the Blades visit next-to-bottom Preston North End, who also have 35 points but a far superior goal difference. Scunthorpe United are next in the table on 37 points with Crystal Palace currently the team to catch in 21st with 37 points.

Morgan, however, insists the scrap for survival does not just involve the bottom four clubs – with South Yorkshire rivals Doncaster Rovers and Derby County also far from safe.

“We have a mountain to climb and we have to show promotion form now to stay up,” he said. “We have got to win four or five games out of six and we have got to win the next two.

“Is it possible? Yes,” he added. “And who is to say that other teams won’t get dragged in? A few seem to be in freefall such as Doncaster, who are struggling, and Derby, who are hovering.”

Since joining the Blades eight years ago, Morgan has witnessed the club rise to the Premier League and fall back again.

It is four years since the Blades suffered the agony of top-flight relegation on the final day of the 2006-07 season, losing 2-1 at home to Wigan Athletic when just a draw would have been enough to secure survival.

Now, just as then, Morgan says it is vital to keep the season alive until the final game.

“I have told the lads that we must not throw the towel in or make it easy for Palace, Scunthorpe and Preston. We have to take it to the end of the season by keeping the pressure on.

“That is the best thing we can do – take it to the last game of the season. Let there be a few teams going at it on the final day. How many times have we seen that happen before? where there is the split screen on TV and the positions in the league keep changing as the goals go in? It’s going to be difficult but no one gives you anything easy in this life. “

Morgan, 33, describes the current campaign as the ‘most frustrating’ of his professional career with the Blades in serious danger of returning to the third tier of English football for the first time in 22 years.

Although born and bred in Barnsley, Morgan is now regarded as a Blade by United supporters due to his commitment to the cause.

With another year left on his contract, he will still be around next season regardless of the club’s success or failure over the next six games.

In typically robust style, Morgan said: “The last thing this club wants is to be in League One next season. I am hoping I will still be a Championship player when I get fit – but to stay up it’s going to take a lot of determination, a lot of sticking together, belief and a bit of luck.

“We have got enough character to get out of this, we have some good players and we have played well at times – we have just not got the results our performances have deserved. It’s terrible watching. I hate it. I want to be involved.

“People keep asking if I can sneak a couple of games in before the end of the season, but there is not a prayer.”

The Blades may have to cope again without vice-captain Nick Montgomery tonight due to personal issues, meaning striker Darius Henderson will retain the captain’s armband.

Henderson, who has played only three times in 12 months due to injury, was booed off the field by Blades fans at the weekend after missing a series of goalscoring opportunities against Boro.

Manager Micky Adams jumped to his striker’s defence in the game’s aftermath and yesterday assistant manager Alan Cork, a former Blades striker, added his support to the under-fire player. “He has just got to calm down a little but because he is so eager to score,” said Cork.

“The lad has been out for 11 months and just needs a bit of luck. He needs to score his first goal. It is like Fernando Torres (at Chelsea). Everyone goes though spells like that. Unfortunately, the pressure can get to you because we need to win games.

“It affects everyone, even the supporters.”

Strikers Ched Evans (knee) and Richard Cresswell (groin) will be assessed today after both were ruled unfit last weekend.

Last six games: Blades LWLWLL, Cardiff LLDDWW

Last time: Blades 3 Cardiff 4; October 24, 2009; Championship.

Referee: M Oliver (Northumberland).