Marcus Williams is refusing to dream about a return to Premier League Reading and causing an FA Cup upset.
This is because the Sheffield United defender is determined nothing should distract the Blades as they look to ease the pain of last year’s League One play-off heartache by clinching automatic promotion this term.
Williams spent two frustrating seasons with the Royals after moving from Scunthorpe United in 2010, starting just three league matches.
He joined the Blades last season on a free transfer and the FA Cup draw sees the 26-year-old handed the chance to show his former club later this month what they missed out on.
But for now Williams is adopting one of football’s greatest cliches of just taking each game as it comes – starting today with the League One visit of Yeovil Town to Bramall Lane.
“On Sunday, I had a few texts flying about from the boys,” admitted Williams. “It will be nice to go back there and see some old faces, but the main thing is Saturday’s game.
“We just need to take one game at a time; the Cup is a totally different matter. We can think about that when it comes later on.
“It’s a good game to go into; we can go there and get something and possibly win the game.
“It’s only a few weeks away, but we can’t look too far forward. We have an important game against Yeovil and the three points are there. It’s in our hands and we need to make sure we do our jobs.
“We must concentrate on one game at a time, instead of looking at future games in the season or saying we should be getting promoted – everybody talking about this and that.”
There is a steely determination in the Blades’ dressing room to avoid a repeat of last season’s promotion letdown.
So much so that the Blades players have introduced their own fines system to keep the squad on their toes, with work-rate and punctuality key ethics.
Williams hopes the Blades will reap the benefits by improving further in the second half of the season and celebrate a return to the Championship in May.
“We can definitely score more goals,” said Williams, when asked where United can improve.
“We are creating a lot of chances. There have been games this season where we have created 15 to 20 chances and only banged one in the net. We haven’t punished teams yet, but, hopefully, that will come later in the season.
“There’s more to come. Our home record isn’t as good as our away one.
“We need to tighten up all over the pitch.
“A few weeks ago, we had a players’ meeting, just to tighten up on a few things.
“In the dressing room and on the training ground we brought in fines and other stuff to make sure nobody is slacking off now towards the end of the season.
“That’s not just the starting XI, but the young professionals, kids as well who are training with us.
“Everything has to be taken seriously now. If we have meetings, people need to be on time, things like that.
“It benefits everybody, not just the first team getting promoted, but all the players, staff and fans. If we make sure we can do our jobs in the second half of the season, we will be where we want to be.
“Ideally, we want to get promoted after missing out last season in the play-off final. We want to be back in the Championship.
“That’s the main target, but we don’t want to start thinking too far ahead. We must just take each game as it comes.
“Going away to Oxford wasn’t easy, but we came away with a clean sheet. Going to Doncaster on New Year’s Day and coming away with a point from there was a great result as they will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
“Hopefully, now we can push on. The gaffer has brought in a couple of players (Danny Higginbotham and Jamie Murphy) who have settled in well and looked good in the last couple of games.
“Some games this season we have made it very difficult for ourselves. The boys know that the goals we have conceded have been very poor for us. Not good goals from the opposition, just poor play from us.
“The gaffer has brought in Danny (Higginbotham), an experienced Premier League player, who has played at the highest level and who can help the back four with Neill Collins being out injured.”
Williams looks set to retain his spot at left-back after stepping off the substitutes’ bench for the injured Matt Hill in last weekend’s 3-0 win at Oxford.
Hill, 31, is likely to be out for six weeks with a broken jaw, but the Blades have strength in depth at left-back.
“It’s been a bit of a funny season so far,” said Williams. “I have played quite a lot of games, both coming off the bench and starting, and I have just kept plugging away in training.
“I have made sure, when needed, I am ready and I have been working hard for the team. Competition is high, not just for myself but the entire team.
“At times this season, I have played left wing, and it’s been a vital part of our season that players are ready when called upon.”
Doncaster-born defender Williams believes the current Blades team is better than last season’s side, which relied heavily on the goals of Ched Evans and the individual efforts of players like Stephen Quinn.
“This season, there are a few players scoring goals. Last season we relied on Ched (Evans) a lot, but goals are now coming from around the park which is good to see.”