JAY O’SHEA does not need to regularly glance at the Tweet that has been framed and mounted on the home dressing room wall at Bramall Lane to remind him of what his requirements are at Sheffield United.
For the unitiated, the social media message from a proud Unitedite which struck an instant chord with manager and lifelong ‘Blade’ Chris Wilder reads: “Finally a team that actually give 100%. That’s all we ask for.”
It is a succinct and heartfelt message that pays tribute to the honest collective endeavours of Wilder’s Blades class of 2016-17 perhaps better than anything else.
Yet it also serves as a gentle reminder from Wilder that while workaholic standards have been set, they equally must be maintained during the business part of the season when the fruits of the considerable labours of the club’s players and coaching staff will, hopefully, arrive.
For seasoned professional O’Shea, the message does not need to be spelled out, with the midfielder mindful of the score in terms of what he must do as a minimum requirement to give himself the best chance of earning the long-term Blades deal that he craves.
Just this week, manager Chris Wilder has made it crystal-clear that all talk regarding new contracts for players whose deals expire at the end of the season is on hold until after the club’s playing commitments end this term – the only focus being on the Blades’ next nine matches.
But that does not mean he is not watching and making mental notes in every training session, let alone match, as to which players he wants – and presumably does not – as part of his plans going forward.
For O’Shea, who joined the Blades on loan from neighbours Chesterfield in January for the rest of the season, remaining on-message is non-negotiable.
Having waited so long to give himself the best chance of another sniff at the comparative big-time with the Blades, the 28-year-old will not be caught passing up the chance.
O’Shea, who failed to establish himself early in his career during a spell in the Championship with Birmingham City – and also during an unsuccessful brief loan stint in the second-tier at Middlesbrough – said: “I am at a stage now where where I could hang around League One or League Two or I could kick on.
“It is a very important time for me in my career and, hopefully, I can push on with this club and earn a contract in the summer.
“The main aim for me when I came here was earning a full-time contract and the aim does not change and I need to show what I can do every day in training and in and around the place.
“Everybody is here for the same reason. Everyone wants to go up and are doing the same thing, working as hard as they can to get this club back to where it belongs.
“It is going to be nice what can happen in the next nine games.”
Everybody is here for the same reason. Everyone wants to go up and are doing the same thing, working as hard as they can to get this club back to where it belongs.Sheffield United’s Jay O’Shea.
After slugging it out, with the greatest respect, in the lower leagues with the likes of the Spireites and MK Dons, O’Shea’s motivation certainly comes easy.
Despite making his debut at Old Trafford, of all places, shortly after his 21st birthday for Birmingham in August, 2009, big-time occasions have been a rarity for the Dubliner – and why his experiences with the Blades are so cherished.
His only taste of Bramall Lane so far has come in the form of a late cameo from the bench in the home game with promotion rivals Scunthorpe United on February 18, with three of his four appearances so far coming on the road.
Just under 28,000 watched the Blades encounter with the Iron exactly a month ago and O’Shea would dearly relish another taste of that sort of atmosphere against Charlton Athletic – and any extra pressure and expectation to perform that comes with it, too.
O’Shea, who opened his goalscoring account for the Blades when he netted their third in the eventful 4-2 midweek victory against Swindon Town at the County Ground, said: “That would be nice. I haven’t played much at home, but when I have, the fans have been unbelievable and it will be great to play some more minutes at Bramall Lane.
“I think for my home debut, it was the biggest League One crowd that I have ever played in front of and just to step in and play in front of that many fans at your home ground is something I haven’t been used to.
“Every day I come in, it is unbelievable here. It is a massive club and I didn’t actually realised how big it was until I saw it. It is Premier League standard, I would say.
“I think this is the sort of pressure that you want as a footballer, if you have any ambitions. This is the pressure you should be craving.
“I have had a promotion from League Two to League One with Chesterfield and, looking back on that time, one week we got promoted and the next week, we won the league.
“I put them down as the best couple of weeks I have had in football.
“If that is what we are going to do here, it would be unbelievable. That sort of pressure to do that is something you should be craving.”
Boosted by the fillip of his first goal in Blades’ colours, the schemer added: “It was nice. But the most important thing now, coming into this run-in, is that we win games.
“If you were to look at the fixtures and see those last three away games, you would have thought it would be the toughest test in the run-in and to come out of it unbeaten with two wins and a draw is great for the lads.”