SHEFFIELD United head to Coventry City on Saturday with a simple set of instructions: 'Score first and defend well.'
Micky Adams, the South Yorkshire club's manager, issued the order ahead of his emotional return to the Ricoh Arena where he spent two years in charge of United's next opponents.
Shoring up a leaky rearguard, which has been breached 16 times in its last five outings has been Adams' priority since taking charge, with a new centre-half believed to feature on his shopping list during the January sales.
Despite seeing his side produce a courageous display against Aston Villa in last weekend's FA Cup tie with Aston Villa, the former Port Vale chief described two of the visitors' three goals as preventable.
"I'd love to see what would happen if we actually took the lead in a game," he said. "What would happen if we got our noses in front.
"The lads have shown so much honesty and determination since I came in but we've got to stop giving teams one or two-goal starts. That's not a good habit to be in."
United, who appointed Adams as Gary Speed's permanent successor less than a fortnight ago, travel to the Midlands 21st in the Championship table. They have not won since caretaker John Carver oversaw a 1-0 victory over Swansea on December 18.
With Nyron Nosworthy, Andy Taylor, Stephen Jordan and Chris Morgan all ruled out through injury, United's back four appears in desperate need of reinforcements.
Despite a cost-cutting drive behind the scenes at Bramall Lane, Adams' board of directors have acknowledged money must be found to bolster the squad during the transfer window.
Speaking before Villa's visit, chief executive Trevor Birch appeared to indicate that drafting in cover for Morgan and Nosworthy was among the plans being discussed.
Tonight's reserve-team fixture against Port Vale has been postponed due to United's involvement in the FA Youth Cup at Cheltenham (kick-off 7pm).
Speaking ahead of the third-round tie at the Abbey Business Stadium, academy director John Pemberton said: "We should have played this game before Christmas but it got re-arranged so the lads are absolutely desperate to get going now. They can't wait to get started.
"We watched Cheltenham in action when they beat Oxford and Woking to reach this stage and we've hopefully given the lads all the preparation they need. The FA Youth Cup brings with it certain pressures and our boys are going to have to show they can cope as it's all part of the learning curve.
"We want to go as far as we can."
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